13 January 2018.
A peaceful early morning Saturday was interrupted by a loud cell phone alert. See picture below. I didn’t look at my phone because we were expecting to get 30 to 40 foot waves over the weekend and I thought it was a warning for that. I found out as my daughter came running downstairs in a state of panic.
Panic, fear, all things going through your mind. I started calm, turn don the radio, the TV, my ham station. Nothing on the Radio or TV so I was suspicious, plus none of the sirens the state has been testing were sounding. This reminded me of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Total Surprise, early weekend morning, but luckily it was a false alarm. I remember saying “if this is real, North Korea will cease to exist when the US and the UN is through with them.
A state employee had accidentally triggered the Emergency Alert System message at 8:07 a.m., during what should have been a routine internal test. It took officials 38 minutes to announce their mistake, and to confirm that the warning had been a false alarm. Those 38 minutes were the 38 worst minutes of many Hawaii residents’ lives. And they were just as horrifying for people outside of Hawaii who, like me, felt helpless as they contended with the prospect of never seeing their loved ones again.
Hawaii starting testing the nuclear waning siren on the first working day of the month starting in December 2017. At 11:45 a.m. on the first business day of every month, a steady alert signal will blare from speakers for 50 seconds, followed by a 10-second pause and then a wailing “attack warning” signal for 50 seconds.
Hawaii has earthquakes, volcanic activity, flooding, hurricanes, tsunamis, and now missile activity from North Korea. Evacuations is not a realistic strategy for any of the Hawaiian islands.
A fast warning is critical for the Hawaiian islands, which sit just 4,661 miles from North Korea. The state would only have about a 20-minute heads up before a missile launched by Kim Jong Un’s regime hits the islands. “Pacific Command would take about fives minutes to characterize a launch, where the missile is going, which means the population would have about 15 minutes to take shelter,” said Vern Miyagi, administrator for Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency. “It’s not much time at all. But it is enough time to give yourself a chance to survive.”
In the event of an actual attack, Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents are expected to seek shelter immediately after hearing the attack warning signal. An emergency alert system will broadcast warnings on TV and radio as well.
Why did none of the radio stations break in to coverage to let residents now what was going on? Why did it take 15 minutes for the warning to come across the TV? Why did it take 48 minutes to let everyone know it was an error?
Social media had a lot of false comments on facebook and twitter. I went to CNN, Fox Next, and finally saw that it was a mistake on the DEM facebook page.
There were other operators talking about the alert they received as well but no on new much. The TV finally has the scrolling message at the top saying the same, not a drill, stay indoors.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was one of the first to send out a message on Twitter to confirm it was false. If your not one of her 174K follows, then you didn’t find out official word for 38 minutes after the initial message.
Reports of people running around downtown, buses stopping and letting passengers off to go into hotel and hotels sending guest to the basements. A lot of confusion and that is to be expected. The best we can hope for out of this is Department of Emergency Management (DEM) learns to do better and citizens learn what to do in the event it happens for real next time.
Just think it this would have happened during rush hour. Grid locked roads would become a nightmare of accidents and fights. Rush hour on Oahu is generally 6 Am to 8 AM and 3 PM to 7 PM. Luckly this happened on a Saturday morning early with no major events going on. Still, it was cause for concern for most people in Hawaii and those families on the mainland. The visitors had no idea of what to do and the hotels did not have much information to provide to them either.
Would Hawaii be a target?
I believe that answer is YES. Hawaii is a critical outpost for the US military, hosting all services, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard all have large bases on Oahu. US Pacific Command, the military’s headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region, is also on the island of Oahu.
So what do you do?
- Don’t Freak out
- Turn on your radio and TV to get information.
- Listen for the State Sirens
- Know what today in such events like weather, Tsunami’s, and now missile strike
- Do not trust comments on social media. Go to official sites
- Don’t overload cell phones by making non emergency calls
- Don’t call 911 to get informaiton
- Get a ham radio license
- Get 14 days of supplies and keep them on hand. Medicine, water, food, pet meds/food and a AM/FM radio that is battery powered (Keep batteries on hand)
- Have a plan for your family and pets
- Don’t spread false information