Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
It could take months for homeowners Dallas to make repairs after Wednesday's hail storm. For those living in historic neighborhoods repairs will take even longer.
Backlog from storms North Texas saw in April could slow the cleanup and repair effort.
Hail as large as baseballs and golf balls damaged cars and homes in Dallas, Irving and Grand Prairie on Wednesday night. Early estimates put the damage at about $400 million.
The cost of repairs for historic homes, such as those in the Swiss Avenue part of Dallas, could exceed the cost of some new homes. Some homes face six-digit repair costs after tennis- and baseball-sized hail pulverized the tiles on their roofs.
"This was more frightening than the tornado," Janet Bryant said. "It was so loud, it sounded like we were being bombed."
In the Lakewood area of Dallas, hail shattered 10 of the original windows in Jim Heath's 1920s home.
"As I came in, I saw one come right through, and the ice chunk actually landed on the other side of the room," he said.
The city of Dallas is opening a temporary field office at the Lakewood Library. Staff will assist with roofing permits as well as consult with and educate residents in historic or conservation districts.
The office at the library, which is located at 6121 Worth St., will be open from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday and noon-4:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. The library is closed on Mondays.
Long Wait at Body Shops
Heath's cars also were beat up pretty badly. But his dealership said they would not be able to repair the dents until August because they are still working on cars from storms in April.
Other body shops are also still busy with cars damaged in April.
"We were already at several of the locations -- depending on their location to where the storms were -- that are three to four weeks out on hail before this storm happened," said Alan Walne, the chairman of Herb's Paint & Body and a former Dallas councilman.
He said he expects the number of damaged vehicles to reach into the tens of thousands.
"I'd say this is about as bad as we've probably seen in the Dallas area, at least in the last 20 to 30 years, anyway," he said.
Insurance adjusters, including AAA Texas, are setting up claims centers to handle the load.
"Overall today, about 50 percent of the vehicles, half of them coming in here, are complete losses," AAA spokesman Doug Shupe said.
Body shops are advising customers to be patient.
"You find somebody that doesn't have anything to do right now, I would say, 'Buyer beware,' because everybody is slammed right now," Walne said.
Rental cars are also in short supply. Many were damaged in the storm or are already loaned out to people with damaged vehicles.
Enterprise, which provides rentals at many local repair shops, is bringing in 2,500 cars from other parts of the state to help out.
Bill Moyer watched from his couch as shards of glass dropped from his skylight. Contractors spent Thursday morning and afternoon at his house, using tarps and tape to patch up his roof until his insurance company could survey the damage.
The number people who need help kept Moyer from reaching his insurance company.
"Naturally, the phone line is busy," he said. "I sent an email to make sure they have us on their list."
But Moyer kept a positive attitude, even joking that he would have fixed the roof himself.
"I offered to, but my wife said, 'No, no way.' As you can see, I'm pretty old and rickety."
Hail smashed out the front and back windshields on Frank Seltzer's cars, and some of the plastic shattered into pieces.
"I was talking to my insurance agent, and he said this was different hail," he said.
Heath agreed, saying the hail in Wednesday's storm was "really hard hail."
"Normally, it's the white hail, and it's kind of soft, but we had baseball-size hail, and it had soft core, but it had solid ice all the way around it, so it was heavy," he said.
Hail also damaged several pieces of glass in the outdoor Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum, although the vast majority of it escaped unscathed. A few pieces of delicate glass in the Persian Pond sculpture were damaged.
The Lakewood Country Club sustained damage, forcing this weekend's 2012 Texas Amateur to move to Honors Golf Club.
Former state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt watched the storm destroy the sunroom in her historic 94-year-old home.
"We were standing here watching it when this [window] broke, and the noise was so great, we didn't even know the glass broke," she said.
"The way we knew it broke was when the baseball-size pieces of ice came into the front part of the house," Ehrhardt said.
Kristi Roland sustained heavy damage, but the window repairman was at her house at 9 a.m., her temporary windows are already in place.
"Yeah, we're very fortunate," she said. "I know there's a lot of people that don't have any help yet."
Irving, Grand Prairie Also Cleaning Up
In Irving, a neighborhood on High Crest Court was hit with golf-ball-sized hail.
"We've never had hail like this that I recall," Jim Wilson said.
Wilson said ping-pong-sized hailstones pounded his house and shattered one window.
"Each one sounded like a gunshot -- 'bang-bang-bang-bang,'" he said.
In his backyard, some antique plates that were mounted on the wall were broken.
Wilson's next-door neighbor, Ed Cancel, said it was the first time hail has damage his house in the 12 years he has lived there.
His kitchen skylight shattered, frightening his cats.
"The cats were going crazy," he said. "They were running back and forth. One time, they hit each other because they were running like crazy."
Grand Prairie reported baseball- and softball-sized hailstones.
Tonya Hunter, city emergency management coordinator, said the storm damaged roughly 50 city vehicles. Rooftops, equipment and private and public property were also damaged.
Hunter also said the city activated its outdoor warning siren system when it got word of the large hail and destructive winds faster than 70 mph from the National Weather Service.
NBC 5's Omar Villafranca and Ken Kalthoff contributed to this report.