Ophelia battering the NC Outer Banks

She’s like the hurricane that just won’t go away:

NEW BERN, N.C. – Hurricane Ophelia stalled Thursday just off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, prolonging the wind and rain blasting the fragile barrier islands even as it appeared the mainland had avoided severe flooding.

Thousands of homes and businesses had no electricity.

As the erratic storm slowed almost to a halt during the early afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said its northern eyewall, the ring of high wind surrounding the eye, could remain over the Outer Banks for 12 to 24 more hours.

“If you have been asked to evacuate and did not, now is not the time to do it, especially if you are in the Outer Banks,” Gov. Mike Easley said at a midday briefing.

Many residents of the Outer Banks’ Hatteras and Ocracoke islands were believed to have defied evacuation orders.

Although Ophelia was barely moving, it still had sustained wind of 80 mph Thursday, down from 85 mph early in the day, the hurricane center said. A gust to 95 mph was recorded at Hatteras Village, the center said.

Here’s hoping my fellow North Carolinians on the coast and on the Outer Banks are safe tonight and will remain so.

Here are some photos of Ophelia’s destruction (courtesy: WWAY TV3 – Wilmington, NC)

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