Ice jams wreaked havoc on riverside communities north of Selkirk early yesterday, destroying homes and forcing evacuations.

Rapidly rising flood waters along the Red River forced several residents and emergency responders onto the tops of homes and vehicles to await rescue in Breezy Point and the Rural Municipality of St. Clements.

Don Brennan, acting director of the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization, said nine people were rescued in Breezy Point.

"Some were found on large ice pallets," he said yesterday. "Others were located on a roof."

A mandatory evacuation order was issued yesterday morning in Breezy Point. Residents were advised to leave Friday, but some refused.

"There are people who want to protect their homes and don't give enough thought to the problems that they can cause by doing that," said Brennan. "We could have easily lost rescuers today."

Six Zodiac boats went into the water north of Winnipeg after a helicopter flew over to find a safe route for the rescuers. No injuries were reported during the evacuations.

Along St. Peter's Road and Peltz Drive in St. Clements, 35 people were evacuated from 27 homes yesterday.

"It was unreal," said Mayor Steve Strang. "We had three of our staff out there, and the water just surrounded them in seconds."

The area was left with massive chunks of river ice blocking roads and driveways, ice that was moved over 500 metres inland in places. The trouble started early yesterday morning when an ice jam developed about 2.5 km south of Netley Creek.

Breezy Point resident Christina Kraft left her home Friday and has not been allowed back in to assess damage.

"I just want to go home," said Kraft, who has lived in the area with her husband Ian since 2006. "They're not telling us anything about how high the water is."

Don Forfar, reeve of the RM of St. Andrews, said many homes on Breezy Point Road have been flooded but a full assessment of the damage can't be made until the water recedes.

"This is going to be the worst ever in the area," Forfar said. "I've heard reports of severe damage to cottages and homes."

Strang said he figures the damage in St. Clements and St. Andrews will be in "the millions".

Brennan said huge ice chunks simply toppled some houses.

"Several homes were completely destroyed by ice," he said. "A lot of these places were on stilts, and ice just took them down."

Two Amphibex ice-breakers were dispatched to the Red River north of Winnipeg yesterday but the situation was considered too dangerous to use them, said a provincial official.

Late yesterday afternoon, St. Andrews also issued a mandatory evacuation order for about 50 residents along the south side of Netley Creek after it spilled its banks, covering roads. Water from the swollen Red has backed up into the already-inundated tributary.

Forfar and Strang lauded emergency personnel and public works staff for their around-the-clock efforts.

"My staff, my fire department, none of us have slept," said Strang. "They did a remarkable job and got everyone out safe. We've been going full bore, and it's still going."

River levels in Selkirk declined almost half a metre yesterday.

South of Winnipeg yesterday a voluntary evacuation notice was issued for about 55 people in Riverside, a small community near Morris, as rising water cut off road access.