Thousands Without Power in Texas After Storms

Thousands of Texans remained without power Wednesday, victims of severe storms packing hail (search) and high wind that rolled north into Oklahoma, where they downed power lines and delayed airline flights.

About 280,000 homes and businesses across the Dallas-Fort Worth area remained without electricity, and it could be several days before power is fully restored, said TXU Electric Delivery (search) spokeswoman Carol Peters.

"This particular storm was in another realm," she said.

The storms also left about 100,000 Oklahomans without power. One person died in Texas while driving on a rain-slick road, and in Kansas, high wind derailed an empty train.

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

Many Texans dealt with the lingering outage as best they could.

Joy Nguyen's family in Dallas had their refrigerator shut off about 9 p.m. and she 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."

As Dallas-Fort Worth assessed the damage, travelers were told to stay away from windows at the Tulsa International Airport in Oklahoma as winds up to 80 mph raked the area, said Ken Miller, the airport's deputy director. Flights were delayed until the storm passed.

Airport Director Brent Kitchen said a 50-foot by 75-foot strip of insulation was torn off a concourse's concrete roof. "It was blowing pretty strong," he said.

Utility companies reported about 100,000 without power in Oklahoma. In Tulsa, windows were shattered and roofs damaged.

At the 15-story WilTel Co. building in downtown Tulsa, dozens of windows were broken, forcing about 1,300 employees to be evacuated, said company spokeswoman Cheena Pazzo.

Glass covered a street in front of the building and the Federal Aviation Administration closed the airspace above to prevent vibrations from media helicopters from sending more windows crashing to the street below. Police closed streets surrounding the building.

Outside Wright, Kan., high winds derailed 68 empty grain cars, officials said. The cars were empty and no one was injured.

The Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train, bound for St. Joseph, Mo., was returning from El Paso, Texas, said company spokesman Steve Forsberg.

A quarter-mile away, winds also blew over a tractor-trailer, Smith said. No injuries were reported.

On Tuesday, thunderstorms pounded parts of Texas with hail as big as tennis balls and wind blasting to more than 80 mph, halting flights at two airports and blacking out more than a half-million customers.

Some of the areas of northern and central Texas got 21/4 inches of rain late Tuesday, flooding streets in Arlington more than a foot deep.

By Wednesday morning, the storms had blown east and north. More than a half-million customers lost power at the height of the storms.

Also Wednesday, Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan asked President Bush to declare parts of Indiana a federal disaster area after 17 tornados ripped through the state Sunday, destroying or damaging hundreds of homes. State officials estimate that residents in five counties may be eligible for federal aid.