For weeks, the flooding in eastern Australia has been a slow-motion disaster, with drenching rain devastating wide swaths of farmland and small towns. Now, rivers are rising in Brisbane, the country’s third-largest city, forcing people to flee both suburbs and skyscrapers. Flooding that has unfolded since late November across the waterlogged state of Queensland turned suddenly violent Monday, with a cloudburst sending a raging torrent down the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane. Hundreds had to be rescued by helicopter Tuesday. Residents use boats to travel down the road after the swollen Fitzroy River broke its banks and flooded the city of Rockhampton on January 5, 2011. Tens of thousands of people in Rockhampton braced for complete isolation as waters, which have inundated an area bigger than France and Germany and closed the town's airport and railway, lapped at the last remaining road link. This image taken on January 10, 2011 shows flood waters swamping the shopping centre in the city of Toowoomba. Australia braced for a rapidly rising death toll on January 11 after flash floods killed eight and left 72 missing, as a quickly spreading flood disaster forced evacuations in central Brisbane. In this Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011 photo, an island is formed by flood water stranding vehicles and other equipment in Rockhampton, Australia. Floods that have cut air, rail and road links to an Australian coastal city are now threatening its sewage plant, and waters are still expected to rise another few feet before peaking Wednesday.