(CNN) – Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said Tuesday morning there was "still a lot of uncertainty" in the aftermath of the disastrous tornado that barreled through Moore, Oklahoma.
But one thing he knows for sure is the area has a long way to go in terms of recovery and emphasized a need to raise a lot of money in the wake of the storm.
"This thing was huge. This is one of the largest ones we had," the Republican senator said on CNN's "Starting Point."
Inhofe pointed to the devastating 1999 tornado that struck the Oklahoma City area, which still ranks as one of the 10 costliest tornadoes in the U.S. since 1950 and caused $1.3 billion in damage. The May EF5 twister killed 36 people and smashed some of the same communities as Monday's tornado.
Officials have initially confirmed that 51 people–including 20 children–were killed in Monday's storm.
Having lived in Oklahoma since he was a child, Inhofe is no stranger to tornadoes, but he said Monday's storm was "so much worse" because of its size and scope.
"I don't know many people who have been raised in Oklahoma who haven't actually been in a tornado one time or another," he said.
President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration late Monday night, making available federal funds for the area. Asked what kind of assistance the state needs, Inhofe told CNN's John Berman they "have everything that [they] need" in terms of immediate recovery efforts.
"We have individual assistance, we have public assistance so that came immediately," he said. "I know [Governor] Mary Fallin was in contact with the president, so that's behind us now, that kind of assistance.
"But there are little things you can could do," the fiscal conservative said. "The Salvation Army and the Red Cross have a number where you can make small contributions. It's going to be necessary to raise a lot of money. We had to do this in 1999."
Inhofe, along with fellow Republican Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma, voted against the Senate bill earlier this year appropriating massive federal funds for disaster relief after Superstorm Sandy.
Inhofe said after the 1999 storm, more people in Oklahoma built storm shelters and basement safe areas–which can be incredibly expensive in Oklahoma. But Inhofe said those decisions saved lives.
"There would have been a lot more people killed we believe if they had not had that warning some 14 years ago," he said.