These Tweets Show the Insanity of Hawaii's Accidental Missile Warning
Early Saturday morning, Hawaiians received a text message informing them that they were living a worst-case scenario: a ballistic missile was en route. They were encouraged to take shelter, and the message said explicitly that this was not a drill. And it wasn't. It was, however, a false alarm and the result of a mistake made by a single Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee.
Eventually HEMA tweeted that there was no missile threat, but it took 38 minutes to send a follow-up text message, and during that 38 minutes people responded the way you'd imagine they would: they took shelterer, sent messages to loved ones, and felt anxious and terrible.
Governor David Ige had this to say about the incident: “This should not have happened... An error was made in emergency management which allowed this false alarm to be sent. It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift where they go through to make sure that the system is working and an employee pushed the wrong button.”
In light of this incident, HEMA has now set up a two-person verification procedure for future tests and a cancellation code to prevent a false alarm. HEMA also released a statement and synopsis of how this happened. Apparently the employee had to verify the command, so he actually pushed the button twice.
To get an idea of just how intense and surreal those 38 minutes were, read the stories and watch the videos below:
At 8:07am everyone in Hawaii got a phone alert: BALLISTIC THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.— brynguist (@brynguist) January 13, 2018
The next 10 minutes were the most terrifying of my life, until I finally checked twitter and saw this.
But seriously, WTF just happened https://t.co/WrFO8qyxR9
There was an Emergency alert for a missile threat in Hawaii around 8 am Hawaii time. My mom texted me around that same time, "I love you" and it's just now clicking why she randomly sent me that 😭 because she thought that was her last moments. I'm sitting at work crying.— k i m ☾ ✨ (@kxmbrly_) January 13, 2018
This was my phone when I woke up just now. I'm in Honolulu, #Hawaii and my family is on the North Shore. They were hiding in the garage. My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/m6EKxH3QqQ— Sara Donchey (@KPRC2Sara) January 13, 2018
The missile launch warning also went out over TV in Hawaii. Note how it directly states “US PACOM has detected a missile threat to Hawaii”. US PACOM never detected a missile threat to Hawaii nor did PACOM ever issue that statement. Yet it went out on TV.— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) January 13, 2018