The hard-working maids of The Help beat three new releases to win the North American box office on a weekend dampened by Hurricane Irene, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.

The Help, an inspirational film about black housekeepers in Civil Rights-era Mississippi, hung on to the No. 1 spot for the second straight weekend with $14.3 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, distributor Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) said.

Action movie Colombiana finished second with $10.3 million while horror flick Don't Be Afraid of the Dark took third place with $8.7 million.

Box-office sales were pressured by Hurricane Irene, which forced the closure of theaters in big markets such as New York and kept moviegoers at home along a broad stretch of the East Coast.

TriStar Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp (6758.T), released Colombiana. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark was distributed by FilmDistrict.