As of late, the tension between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, were in the back of everyone’s mind. For the people of Hawaii, yesterday, the conflict rushed to the forefront in a scary way. At 8:07 am on Saturday, January 13th, mobile phones across the State of Hawaii received a dire warning: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” As you can imagine, shock, panic, and confusion followed. The emergency radio station also issued a warning. “Ballistic Missile to strike Hawaii in minutes”. Followed by instructions to stay indoors, and for drivers to pull over and seek shelter. Pretty scary stuff!
38 minutes later, a follow-up text was sent out: “There is no missile threat or danger to Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.” In many situations, 38 minutes is not a long time, but in the case of awaiting a possibly fiery horrific death….. 38 minutes is a looong time! It is also a very long time to correct such a terrifying “mistake”. How could something like this happen? Who is responsible? Why did they wait so long to communicate it was an error and all are safe?
The official word, from Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, is that an EMA employee “pushed the wrong button” after a shift transition. Really? “Pushed the wrong button”? Now I have never seen the control room in question, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that there is some sort of confirmation screen that pops up after hitting such a command. I mean… My laptop will not allow me to delete the junk files in my trash can without a confirmation message popping up on my screen. We are all supposed to believe that this function, that has the capabilities of sending the entire state in a mass panic, is not equipped with the necessary safeguards to prevent such a casual error? Something like: “THIS IS A SERIOUS WARNING, ARE YOU REALLY SURE YOU MEANT TO HIT THIS INCOMING MISSLE ALERT BUTTON?!”. Who was at the controls, Homer Simpson?
Throughout the day I heard people’s stories about how they responded and their feelings. A gas station attendant shared with me how her boss called her on the phone ordering her to shut down the pumps and go hide in the garage. “All I could think about was that I am going to die alone.”, she reflected. That is real!
I was also told by a man that he was with his family in Hawaii on a beautiful sunny day. “If I had to die, this is not a bad way to go out.” he exclaimed. This… is also valid.
I’m glad that this was a false attack, and that Hawaii is still here. It is my hope that these so-called world leaders get it together and stop using the people as collateral in their, potentially deadly, battle of egos.