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: