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DALLAS (AP) — Dozens of North Texas schools had an unscheduled day off Friday after thunderstorms packing strong winds and hail knocked out power to thousands. Only a few people were injured, including a teacher who was hit by lightning.
At the height of the outage, more than 250,000 homes and businesses were without power late Thursday from the Dallas-Fort Worth area to as far south as Austin to near the Texas border with Oklahoma, according to Oncor, a Dallas-based utility. About 179,000 homes and businesses customers still lacked power Friday.
A fourth-grade teacher at Lamar Elementary School in Denison, about 60 miles north of Dallas, was hospitalized after she was hit by lightning while holding an umbrella and helping a student get to a parent's vehicle Thursday afternoon, according to Henry Scott, superintendent of the Denison Independent School District.
"She reached out to get the door handle, the lightning struck and it either came through the metal part of the umbrella, we don't know for sure, it affected her, it kind of knocked her backwards," Scott said Friday.
The teacher, whose name was not released, managed to return to the building and the principal called 911. She's expected to recover, Scott said.
Strong winds blew the roof off a dormitory at Arlington Baptist College on Thursday afternoon, leaving two students slightly hurt by flying glass, officials said.
Dan Shoemaker, an National Weather Service forecaster in Fort Worth, said 83 mph gusts were recorded in Wills Point, about 35 miles east of Dallas, as part of a strong squall line of straight-line winds. Such storms are more common in the spring, but Texas does have a secondary storm season in the fall, he said.
"We've been in this drought so we just hadn't had a lot of storms. People tend to have short-term memories that these happen," Shoemaker said.
The Arlington Independent School District canceled classes at all 75 campuses Friday amid power outages. Dallas Independent School District, with more than 157,000 students in 220 schools, called off classes at 48 campuses that also lost electricity. The University of Texas at Arlington closed Friday due to power outages.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter Friday at University Baptist Church in Arlington. About 50 people were displaced after two apartment complexes suffered structural damage, police said.