updated 9/6/2006 3:00:27 PM ET 2006-09-06T19:00:27

Two young brothers were missing from a home near a fast-moving stream Wednesday, while across the state six people were evacuated from an area flooded by a river swollen by Tropical Storm Ernesto.

In northwest North Carolina, where heavy rain fell after Ernesto moved through the state last week, search crews were looking for the two missing boys, ages 3 and 4, after they were believed to have wandered away from their grandparents’ home.

Search dogs tracked the boys’ scent to the nearby Dan River. The river has been swollen by rain and runoff but wasn’t flooded.

Jacob White, 3, and Jeffrey White Jr., 4, were reported missing Tuesday afternoon, said Monty Stevens, director of Stokes County Emergency Medical Services. Danbury is about 120 miles west of Raleigh.

The boys’ mother, Melissa White, said she was at a friend’s house when she was called and told the boys had disappeared.

“It’s not like them to wander off,” she said.

The six people evacuated Wednesday — a man plus a woman and her four children — were in Burgaw, near the coast, where the Northeast Cape Fear River was almost 4 feet above flood stage Wednesday. At least 140 people have been evacuated since the river rose out of its banks Friday as Ernesto swept through, officials said.

“It’s not a life and death situation. They have been trapped by this water for so long and they just wanted to get out,” said Eddie King, Pender County’s director of emergency management.

They lived about 1,600 feet from the river near Burgaw, a town about 100 miles southeast of Raleigh. No injuries were reported.

Ernesto, briefly the season’s first hurricane, blew up the East Coast last week, pouring heavy rain on coastal sections of North Carolina and Virginia. At least nine deaths in the United States were blamed on storm, which also killed two people in Haiti, delayed the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis and blacked out thousands of homes and businesses from North Carolina to New York.

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