MICHAEL AFTERMATH: Schools closed, thousands without power across Carolinas

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tropical Storm Michael has been a life-changing storm for many families across the Charlotte area and the Southeast.

[POWERFUL IMAGES: Catastrophic damage caused by Michael across Southeast]

At least eight people have been killed and more than a million homes remain without power across six states.

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As of Friday morning, thousands were still without power in the Myers Park neighborhood. A massive tree fell on a truck Thursday as it was driving down Selwyn Avenue, trapping two men inside.

A neighbor said the truck was so smashed, he didn't realize there was anyone inside at first.

Paramedics rushed both men to the hospital and said one suffered life-threatening injuries, while the other had potentially life-threatening injuries.

[Hurricane Michael: How to help]

[CLICK HERE for a running list of closings because of Michael]

[CLICK HERE for power outage map]

[CLICK HERE to get caught up on Thursday's Michael coverage]

[PHOTOS: Damage and flooding from Tropical Storm Michael]

[SPECIAL SECTION: Tracking the Tropics]

As of 9 a.m., residents of an apartment complex for seniors in north Charlotte were still in the dark after power was knocked out Thursday afternoon.

Channel 9 spoke with a woman whose mother and family members live at the Gables Senior Apartments who said they have been without power since 2 p.m. Thursday because of the storm.

She said a majority of the residents have trouble with the stairs and since the power is out they can't access elevators.

“It's really sad that our city has allowed this to happen twice,” said Rhonda Simpson. “I'm really perturbed about it.”

There's no estimate for when the power to the facility will be restored.

[IMAGES: Catastrophic damage caused by Michael]

[PHOTOS: Charlotte-area damage]

[PHOTOS: Virginia damage]

In east Charlotte, a tree completely uprooted and brought down power lines.

"It's a pretty major catastrophe down there. There were a lot of lines down,” said Shelton Drum, who owns a comic book store on Pecan Avenue.

Widespread power outages were impacting nearby businesses.

"We stayed open until just a few minutes ago. We had some battery-powered lights, but they just weren't enough,” Drum said.

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Other residents in the area said they were without power for hours but found ways to pass the time.

"I was going to drive around, charge my phone in the car and look for a power company to see if they can tell me something,” resident Cardon Ruchti said.

"I'm just glad that the power company isn't out here right now, cause sending them in is a death trap,” resident Nathan Gaddy said. “There's so many wires hanging out."

Earlier Thursday, Chopper 9 Skyzoom saw some crews out beginning to repair downed power lines.

In North Carolina's mountains, motorists had to be rescued Thursday from cars trapped by high water. High winds toppled trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

Flash flooding also was reported in Charlotte and Raleigh. Similar scenes played out in parts of Virginia as the storm raced seaward.

All told, more than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.

Fast-moving Michael left North Carolina behind with rivers rising and nearly 478,000 households in the dark. As of Friday at noon, Duke Energy was reporting nearly 33,000 outages across Mecklenburg County.

Rowan County was dealing with more than 17,000 outages, while several other surrounding counties each had thousands of customers in the dark.

Overnight, Duke Energy fixed problems with its phone lines. People are now able to report hazardous conditions through its customer service lines, which were down for hours.

After Tropical Storm Michael left some destruction across the area, several school districts canceled Friday classes or called for a two-hour delay.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools canceled classes, while Cabarrus County, Lincoln County, Chesterfield County, Statesville-Iredell, Stanly County, Ashe County, and Union County schools will be on a 2-hour delay.

[CLOSINGS: School officials monitor conditions after Michael pushes out of area]

Anson County will be on a 3-hour delay. Kannapolis Schools and Rowan-Salisbury Schools also canceled Friday classes.

CMS officials said 32 schools were without power Thursday, and that by Friday morning, 19 remained in the dark.

"Our community has been hit hard by high winds, heavy rain, downed trees and power lines from Hurricane Michael,” CMS officials said in a release. “According to Duke Energy officials, 32 schools in neighborhoods across the district and nearly 82,000 residents across our community are without lights, refrigeration, heating and cooling due to power loss.”

CMS also postponed all of Friday night's high school football games. The district announced that home games will move to Monday, or to the open date in November that the schools agreed on.

Any out of county games will be rescheduled for Saturday, Monday, or another date.

Charlotte Water crews responded to a wastewater overflow Thursday in the Catawba River Watershed.

Heavy rains caused the overflow near Sadie Drive. Officials said an estimated 2,330 gallons reached Four Mile Creek.

“A majority of wastewater overflows can be prevented with your help,” said Cam Coley, spokesperson at Charlotte Water. “Anything put in plumbing or a manhole can cause wastewater overflows, spilling raw sewage into your street, your creek or even inside your own home. Even products labeled as ‘flushable’ do not breakdown in the sewer system and can contribute to clogging.”

On Thursday afternoon, a tree fell along the Blue Line on 12th Street, between College and Brevard streets, damaging overhead electrical wires.

Channel 9 learned Friday that the intersection might be closed to all traffic until the middle of next week.

In the meantime, CATS is running a bus line between the New Bern Station and the 36th Street Station.

One of the six deaths blamed on Michael happened in our area. A falling tree killed a father on Mocksville Highway in Iredell County.

[Georgia girl, 11, dies as Michael hurls debris through roof]

Troopers said Brian Cooper was driving a black sedan on when the large oak tree fell, seemingly out of nowhere, and directly onto his car.

Troopers believe Cooper died instantly. They said a few seconds either way and Cooper would still be alive.

Channel 9 learned that Cooper just celebrated his 38th birthday a few days ago.

After Michael's rampage on Florida Panhandle: 'Nothing Left'

Linda Marquardt rode out Hurricane Michael with her husband at their home in Mexico Beach. When their house filled with surging ocean water, they fled upstairs. Now their home is full of mud and everywhere they look there's utter devastation in their Florida Panhandle community: fishing boats tossed like toys, roofs lifted off of buildings and pine trees snapped like matchsticks in 155 mph winds.

Row after row of beachfront homes were so obliterated by Michael's surging seas and howling winds that only slabs of concrete in the sand remain, a testament that this was ground zero when the epic Category 4 hurricane slammed ashore at midweek. The destruction in this and other communities dotting the white-sand beaches is being called catastrophic - and it will need billions of dollars to rebuild.

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"All of my furniture was floating," said Marquardt, 67. "'A river just started coming down the road. It was awful, and now there's just nothing left."

Just about 25 miles away, neighbors were seeing similar damage in Panama City, where Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty camped out.

He has shown viewers homes completely ripped off their foundations, roads crumbling away in the water, and debris scattered everywhere.

[LINK: National Hurricane Center monitoring the tropics]

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At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, and by early Friday it wasn't over yet: a tropical storm long after Wednesday's landfall, Michael stubbornly kept up its punch while barreling up the Southeast, dumping heavy rains and spreading flash flooding misery as far away as Virginia.

High winds, downed trees, streets inundated by rising waters and multiple rescues of motorists from waterlogged cars played out in spots around Virginia and neighboring North Carolina. And while forecasters said Michael was gradually losing its tropical traits, it was a new chapter would begin as an extratropical storm predicted to intensify with gale force winds once it starts cross out into the Atlantic.

In North Carolina's mountains, motorists had to be rescued Thursday from cars trapped by high water. High winds toppled trees and power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Flash flooding also was reported in the big North Carolina cities of Charlotte and Raleigh. Similar scenes played out in parts of Virginia as the storm raced seaward.

All told, more than 900,000 homes and businesses in Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were without power.

Meanwhile, thousands of National Guard troops, law enforcement officers and rescue teams still had much to do in the hardest hit area: Florida's Panhandle. Families living along the Panhandle are now faced with a struggle to survive in a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, the storm debris spread far and wide.

In one community, Panama City, most homes were still standing, but no property was left undamaged. Downed power lines and twisted street signs lay all around. Aluminum siding was shredded and homes were split by fallen trees. Hundreds of cars had broken windows. The hurricane damaged hospitals and nursing homes in Panama City, and officials worked to evacuate hundreds of patients.

"So many lives have been changed forever. So many families have lost everything," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, calling it "unimaginable destruction."

An insurance company that produces models for catastrophes estimated Michael caused about $8 billion in damage. Boston-based Karen Clark & Company released that estimate Thursday, which includes privately insured wind and storm surge damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties and vehicles. It doesn't include losses covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

And Michael also was deadly, both in Florida and beyond.

A man outside Tallahassee, Florida, was killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old girl in Georgia died when Michael's winds picked up a carport and dropped it on her home, debris striking her in the head. A driver in North Carolina also was killed when a tree fell on his car.

Some fear the toll can only rise as rescue teams get around storm debris blocking roads and reach isolated areas.

More than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast were ordered or urged to clear out as Michael closed in. But emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings.

The Coast Guard said it rescued at least 27 people before and after the hurricane's landfall, mostly from coastal homes. Nine people had to be rescued by helicopter from a bathroom of a home in hard-hit Panama City after their roof collapsed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronald Hodges said.

In hard-hit Mexico Beach alone, state officials say, 285 people in Mexico Beach defied a mandatory evacuation order ahead of Michael. The task ahead: finding and hopefully safely accounting for all those who stayed behind.

National Guard troops made their way into the ground-zero town and found 20 survivors initially Wednesday night, and more rescue crews are arriving. But the fate of many residents was unknown.

Mishelle McPherson and her ex-husband searched for the elderly mother of a friend. The woman lived in a small cinderblock house about 150 yards from the Gulf and thought she would be OK. The home was found smashed, with no sign of the woman.

"Do you think her body would be here? Do you think it would have floated away?" McPherson asked.