Thousands Still Without Power in Texas

More than 400,000 homes and businesses in Texas and surrounding states remained without power Thursday, following deadly storms that brought hurricane-force wind and hail as big as tennis balls.

About 300,000 of the cutoff customers were in the Dallas-Fort Worth (search) area, where back-to-back storms caused an estimated $100 million damage.

Tens of thousands were also affected in Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

TXU Electric Delivery said it could take until midday Friday to restore all power in northern Texas.

At the peak, half a million customers there lost power, most after the first storm struck Tuesday, bringing the hulking hail and wind of more than 80 mph and halting flights at two airports.

"This particular storm was in another realm," utility spokeswoman Carol Peters said.

Texans dealt with the outages as best they could.

Employees at the Dallas Affaires Cake Co. (search) worried how to preserve 17 wedding cakes — at least one costing more than $1,000 — without refrigeration. The bakery finally found a cooler in the catering kitchen at a Dallas business center.

"We're pretty much moving our entire shop over there," manager Cassandra Henry said. "They really helped save the day."

"With 17 weddings, this was going to be a bad weekend to begin with."

At her Dallas home, Joy Nguyen was trying to preserve food by packing it with dry ice.

"My husband, who works at home and uses his computer to do most of his work, is pulling his hair out because he can't get anything done," she said. "Today is such a bad day."

Damage in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was tentatively estimated at $100 million by the Southwestern Insurance Information Service (search), an industry group. Most of the damage was due to wind, spokeswoman Sandra Ray said.

Two people died in Texas, one while driving on a rain-slick road, the other when a tree fell on his mobile home. One woman was killed in Oklahoma City when her pickup truck rolled into a ditch in zero-visibility conditions.

Power remained out for nearly 70,000 in northwestern Louisiana, including 50,000 in the Shreveport-Bossier City area.

A Bossier City mall was evacuated Wednesday night after part of its roof was ripped off. Skylights crashed into the food court, and several kiosks were damaged, police spokesman Mark Natale said.

Of the 45,000 without electricity in Oklahoma, 36,500 were in the Tulsa area, where windows were shattered and roofs damaged Wednesday as winds hit 80 mph.

About 100,000 Oklahoma customers were without power at the height of that storm, and some could remain in the dark into the weekend.

"Tulsa is pretty heavily forested. A lot of trees and limbs fall and tear down lines," utility spokesman Ed Bettinger said.

At Tulsa International Airport (search), a 50-foot by 75-foot strip of insulation was torn off a concourse's concrete roof, airport Director Brent Kitchen said.

More than 30,000 customers were without power late Wednesday in Arkansas, which was hardest hit around Hot Springs.

To the northwest, high wind derailed 69 empty grain cars on a Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train outside Wright, Kan., officials said. No one was injured.