NEW BERN, N.C. (AP) -- 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.

full story