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There’s been a massive reaction to Saturday morning’s accidental missile warning in Hawaii. Here’s a sampling:
Civil Beat’s Anthony Quintano went to Oahu’s Magic Island to get video reactions:
On Saturday morning, officials attempted to spread the word that the alert was sent in error:
AGAIN FALSE ALARM. What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 13, 2018
HAWAII – THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE. THE ALERT WAS SENT OUT INADVERENTLY. I HAVE SPOKEN TO HAWAII OFFICIALS AND CONFIRMED THERE IS NO THREAT. pic.twitter.com/hwRGct2aTa
— Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiPress) January 13, 2018
Many voiced concerns about keeping those at fault accountable, as well as the state’s overall preparedness:
Three immediate lessons from today’s false alarm 1) We need more shelters, 2) Our state warning system is a massive failure, 3) Family Plans are crucial.
— Beth Fukumoto (@bethfukumoto) January 13, 2018
Mistakes happen. This one was bad. But 38 minutes to formally correct mistake is not acceptable.
And still waiting for an official to speak directly and explain. #hawaii
— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) January 13, 2018
— seven8time (@seven8time) January 13, 2018
Today’s alert was a false alarm. At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) January 13, 2018
Hawaii residents shared personal stories about what it was like to receive the alert:
This morning, I grabbed my fiancé and hid in my neighbor's concrete-walled bathroom. After a few mins, I grabbed my laptop + my phone & drove to my sister's in-laws house down the road bc it felt better to be with family. Thank god it was an error.
— carla herreria (@carlalove) January 13, 2018
I was put in a similar situation. I'm currently at work and unable to leave. My son is at home asleep. It would take me 45 mins to get to my son. I called to wake him and tell him I loved him, stay inside. When he asked, what's happening…I could only say, "It'll be OK."
— MissDJM (@missdjm) 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 (@SaraDonchey) January 13, 2018
Honolulu Civil Beat’s Anthony Quintano went live on Facebook to reach out to readers for how they were reacting to the false alert:
Here’s what some of the viewers had to say:
Governor Ige’s afternoon press conference gave the public some answers:
State says the employee who pushed the button that sent out #ICBM alert didn't realize what he had done until he received the message on his personal phone. @HawaiiNewsNow #Hawaii pic.twitter.com/Xrrxh151AO
— Allyson Blair (@AllysonBlairTV) January 14, 2018
Turns out the process to send an instant, all-channel statewide alert warning of imminent disaster is too simple… but the process to cancel, rescind, and declare an all-clear is too complicated. #MissileAlert
— Ryan Ozawa (@hawaii) January 14, 2018
"It's a human error. There is a screen that says, 'Are you sure you want to do this?'"
And they pushed the "Yes" button anyway
That comes from Vern Miyagi, the administrator of @Hawaii_EMA
— Nick Grube (@nickgrube) January 13, 2018
Public figures sent out press releases addressing the mistaken alert and the panic that ensued:
Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki: “The system we have been told to reply upon failed and failed miserably today. I am deeply troubled by this misstep that could have had dire consequences.”
“… Clearly, government agencies are not prepared and lack the capacity to deal with emergency situations. Apparently, the wrong button was pushed and it took over 30 minutes for a correction to be announced. Parents and children panicked during those 30 minutes.
“The Hawaii House of Representatives will immediately investigate what happen and there will be consequences.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell: “The false missile warning that took place at 8:07 Saturday morning cannot be repeated as it caused extreme anxiety and concern for our local residents and visitors, and the country as a whole. I have met with the chiefs of the city’s first responders and key members of my cabinet, and our departments acted as though the threat was real. HPD confirmed the false warning three minutes after it was issued by the state Emergency Management Agency and immediately began using their bullhorns to inform the public throughout O‘ahu, including Waikīkī, that no threat existed. It’s clear that the process to alert the public of a false missile warning needs to be improved, and we will do our best to ensure that this occurs.”
Rep. Kaniela Ing: “Today’s false alarm is a major screw up, and 38 minutes without a correction is way too long.
“Hospital patients were moved. My friend’s mom called her crying and said goodbye. Another friend was sheltering in place in a basement with her toddlers. People were evacuating restaurants without paying. I’m glad everyone is safe, but this is not okay.
“Through my role with the State House Public Safety Committee, I will be calling for a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of this and make sure it never happens again. The people deserve answers and security.”
Dr. Jim Shon, Hawaii Educational Policy Center:
Civil Beat also asked Facebook readers for reactions. Here are some excerpts from their emails:
• Dean Miyamoto: “Someone needs to lose their job, unless this was a hack.”
• Thomas Pang: “My Mom lives through the December 7, 1941 attack and seeing her stress through this experience was disheartening. Much better communication is needed, we shouldn’t have to look to social media to find out what is going on.”
• Gabriella Marzullo, student at Hawaii Pacific University: “I was eating breakfast when I got the emergency alert on my phone … I started running down the stairs, and I live on the 28th floor of my building. I soon realized that by the time I made it down there, I don’t think I would’ve even made it to the nearest shelter in time.
“… Today was terrifying and showed me how unprepared I was. Even if I was prepared, I don’t even know how secure the nearest bomb shelter is.”
• Brittany Anderson: “My husband and I were at the Hilo Farmer’s Market when the alert went out … Vendors, visitors, and residents alike all looked at one another going ” is this real??” Many people scrambled to leave and a few people started running into the KTA which is a concrete building.
“… We quickly bought eggs, kalo, and carrots to take home in hopes that we could store them a bit better. We got in the car and drove home, filling up on gas just in case. I called 911, civil defense, and the police non-emergency line but they were all busy. Goosebumps ran up and down my arms and tears filled my eyes. I started filling the bathtub with water. “
• Kate Sterling, resident of Hale Hau’oli senior/disability housing in Honoka’a, Hawaii Island:
• 8:07 am, warning comes in. I am making breakfast, read it, put phone down, turn around and pick it back up. Itdoes say what I thought it did not. Adrenaline kicks in.
• 8:08 Call sister in Brooklyn.
• 8:12 am: Start internet search. Using every search word combination I can think of, I find ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on county, state or federal websites, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on local or national websites. Adrenaline now really going up because I’m thinking this might be real.
• Keep re-searching over and over until a twitter account is on the search feed, click into that to connect to Tulsi Gabbard’s tweet.
• 8:26 call sister in Brooklyn back.
• 8:27 call 75yo sister in Kapa’au, who does not know it is a false alert. She sounds greatly upset, then is so relieved. She starts letting her neighbors know.
• 8:30a: After answering calls from neighbors, I start walking through the housing grounds to let the others know. Many are in high states of concern. One tells me news is just coming out on NPR.
• Kittrena Morgan, Kona: “Most everyone in Hawaii this morning feared they were going to die in minutes, or witness massive deaths and destruction of our beautiful islands.
“… Ige cannot apologize enough to make up for the terror inflicted upon us this morning … This is big time, and unprecedented since ‘War of The Worlds.’”
• Irene Tanabe: My carrier is AT&T. I did not receive the first text alert. I did get the one informing me that the alert was a false alarm. So I was spared the horror of those 38 minutes. When I saw the “false alarm” message, I wondered why I never heard the sirens. But now I am worried that if there is a real alert, my carrier won’t necessarily warn me. I have a 206 area code, but since I got the second message, I know they know my location. I understand that tourists did get that message so the origin of your area code shouldn’t matter.
• Lois Crozer, Lanikai: “I was home with my daughter, her b.f. and dogs when we got the alert so we hunkered down in a lower room which is up against the mountain. I studied at length what to do in a nuclear attack (I was in the Red Cross and civilian response team), so I got the water and food (for dogs too) and batteries and radio and compressor and put up the plywood against the windows… We got into the “safe zone” in 16 minutes because my daughter was yelling at me to get in. It was NUTS!!
“… My paddling team was out on the water when they heard an alert and then beached the boat and ran to their cars. At that point you may as well just watch it hit.”
H. Kathryn Lamat, Big Island: “No meaningful shelter in the Keauohana Forest Reserve, Lower Puna.The grown children are safe on the mainland. I figured I may as well go the Hālau and if death or injury came, I would be with my Hula sisters. Really doesn’t get any better than that … well, except it would be better if we did not have a raving swamp monster pretending to be president.
“Mistakes happen. This was a big one, but I don’t think it helps to fire anyone or blame anyone. Failsafe mechanisms were clearly not in place, but I bet they are now, or will be, soon! An exciting morning, with critical undertones, and a good outcome. Let’s just learn all the lessons – personal, institutional, and political – and move on.”
Meg Kennedy, Makakilo: “It could have been way worse if every cell got the alert – I didn’t! – and if ALL the sirens went off – I didn’t hear any sirens in Makakilo – so I knew nothing until my brother texted me from Oklahoma City and could tell me it was a false alarm.
“I think Pacific Command should issue the alert. They can use our State communications if they need to. But it should come from them.”
Gabe Johnson, Lanai City: “It was about 8:00 or so and I was eating breakfast at the Blue Ginger Cafe in Lana’i city. The restaurant was busy with the morning crowd when all of a sudden everyone’s phones started beeping. “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND” I picked up my phone, read the text and immediately my phone was getting flooded with friends and family. I looked around in the restaurant and it was surreal to see the peoples different reactions. One guy came back in the restaurant and said, “Well, where else can I go?” Tourists walked out in the street, many kapuna just stayed in their seats and said, “We went through this in the 50s’”.
“I walked out of the restaurant, thinking this was a real alert, and I had walked to Blue Gingers so I had to walk 10 minutes back to my house. In those 10 minutes, I watched people step out of their houses and stare at the horizon.”
Maui journalist Tad Bartimus heard from these folks:
Tony Novak-Clifford, Haiku: “The morning was bright, clear and beautiful. My honest to god first thought was that this would be a beautiful day to die.”
• Janice Fairbanks, owner of the Old Wailuku Inn: “First things first, the guests. Most were out on the road early. 8 a.m., is the time to feed the guests but instead I gathered them in the living room, then to the hallway downstairs. Safer place, all concrete.
“… After it was all over I fed the guests and told them ‘thank you for trying not to show too much emotion’. Then I went downstairs, sat down and was shaking. Started calling family to tell them I loved them.”
• Tracy Harrap, Kuau: “My phone was chirping with texts from friends … In my head I said, “Well, what can one do? Nothing.” I informed my mother in New Zealand, “missile coming to Hawaii turn on your TV.” I still didn’t believe it. She said come home to New Zealand to live.
“Then heard via Hawaii Emergency Agency that it was a mistake! Come on, a mistake? That’s one heck of a mistake.
” … I am completely mad at how long it took to send the false warning text.
“We are going surfing!”