Hurricane Beryl ‘Free For All’ After Traffic Lights Go Down

Gun Rights

Texas traffic is in disarray after Hurricane Beryl cut power to thousands of the state’s stoplights.

“People are not observing any of the traffic laws,” one Houston driver told ABC13. “It’s a free-for-all.”

The Category 1 hurricane descended on the Lone Star state on Monday after ripping through the Caribbean last week, leaving at least six dead and a trail of flooded roads and damaged infrastructure in its wake.

As a result of power outages across southeastern Texas, thousands of traffic lights are down, creating havoc on the streets of Houston.

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Hurricane Beryl traffic lights
A tree is toppled over by heavy winds during Hurricane Beryl on July 08, 2024 in Houston, Texas. Tropical Storm Beryl developed into a Category 1 hurricane as it hit the Texas coast late last…
A tree is toppled over by heavy winds during Hurricane Beryl on July 08, 2024 in Houston, Texas. Tropical Storm Beryl developed into a Category 1 hurricane as it hit the Texas coast late last night, causing power outages across the southeast and damaging thousands traffic lights in Houston.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

On X, Houston Public Works told drivers: “Treat every 4-way intersection as a 4-way stop. Call 311 to report locations with broken signs or traffic lights so our crews can make the necessary repairs.”

According to ABC13, Houston Public Works will have to manually reset each of the broken traffic lights, and have so far only sent crews to 1,000 of the 2,500 intersections for which they are responsible.

“Our signal crews headed out this morning to assist the Houston District with the repair of traffic signals that were impacted by Hurricane Beryl,” the X account for the Texas Department Transportation Bryan District said. “If you encounter red flashing lights or a traffic light outage, please treat it as a 4-way stop.”

Hurricane Beryl traffic lights
A public works crew member fights high winds as he tries to secure a loose traffic light over FM 518 near Bay Area Blvd in League City, Texas, after Beryl made landfall early morning Monday,…
A public works crew member fights high winds as he tries to secure a loose traffic light over FM 518 near Bay Area Blvd in League City, Texas, after Beryl made landfall early morning Monday, July 8, 2024. The lack of traffic lights has led to chaos on Texas intersections, though city authorities are urging drivers to treat these as 4-way stops.

Kirk Sides/Houston Chronicle via AP

However, drivers have been flaunting these warnings.

“People NEED to stop at lights that are not working… I almost got hit by a young girl who did NOT stop. Please please be careful if you’re driving. Lots of debris still blocking streets and many traffic lights are NOT working,” a Houston resident posted.

Another Texas-based X user wrote: “Hurricane Beryl has left Houston’s traffic lights down, causing chaos. Why isn’t basic traffic law knowledge more widespread? Personal responsibility and community vigilance are crucial now.”

Newsweek has contacted the Texas Department of Transportation and Houston Public Works by email for comment on the traffic light outages.

Texans are already struggling to cope with the fallout from Hurricane Beryl, with boil-water notices in effect across Harris County.

While the storm has now subsided, electric utility CenterPoint Energy reports that over one million of its customers in the state are still without power.

Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during the NRA ILA Leadership Forum at the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting on May 18, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. The governor was away on a tour of Asia when…
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during the NRA ILA Leadership Forum at the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting on May 18, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. The governor was away on a tour of Asia when Hurricane Beryl hit his state, and the White House has criticized the state’s leaders slow response to the crisis.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has taken heat for the delayed federal response to Hurricane Beryl.

On Tuesday evening, President Biden told the Houston Chronical that delivering federal aid to Texas encountered delays, due to slow communication by the state leaders and with the White House.

Abbott spent the entire duration of the hurricane on an economic development trip to Asia, and was in South Korea when Beryl struck Texas. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick oversaw the state’s response in his absence.

Patrick denied Biden’s accusation, writing on X: “I am disappointed that President Biden is turning Hurricane Beryl into a political issue. We had a cordial call today that ended up with him granting my request for a major disaster declaration. But that’s not good enough for him. He is falsely accusing me that I was not reachable.”

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Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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