Here’s How Hawai‘i Responded on Social Media to the False Ballistic Missile Alert
A false alarm caused by human error sent the entire state of Hawai‘i into panic mode.
An emergency alert of an inbound ballistic missile terrified many Hawai‘i residents on Saturday, Jan. 13. The message buzzed on phones at 8:07 a.m. and screamed in all caps: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” If it indeed was a real threat, then Hawai‘i residents would need to immediately scramble to find a nearby shelter and take cover. Thirty-eight minutes later (a long time when you’re contemplating impending doom and saying your goodbyes), our phones went off again informing us that the alert was a false alarm caused by a Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency employee who pushed the wrong button by mistake. Twice. Find out how Hawai‘i residents reacted to the traumatic experience on social media.
Here’s how Hawai‘i officials responded:
NO missile threat to Hawaii.
— Hawaii EMA (@Hawaii_EMA) 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
The ballistic missile warning that was issued is a FALSE alarm. Repeat FALSE alarm.
— Mayor Kirk Caldwell (@MayorKirkHNL) January 13, 2018
There is no missile threat. It was a false alarm based on a human error. There is nothing more important to Hawai‘i than professionalizing and fool-proofing this process.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) 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
STATEMENT: While I am thankful this morning’s alert was a false alarm, the public must have confidence in our emergency alert system. I am working to get to the bottom of this so we can prevent an error of this type in the future.
— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) January 13, 2018
HONOLULU Magazine asked Twitter followers to share their reactions after receiving the alert. That came after a Twitter video was posted of a family sending their children into a storm drain through a manhole to shelter and retweeted and broadcast in news coverage:
Corner of Kalakaua and Kapahulu, tail end of an 8 mile run. We ducked into the hotel parking garage below Hula’s. Building mgmt was awesome. Scariest and most helpless 15 minutes of my life!
— Celise Nakakura (@KalopaMom) January 13, 2018
I was driving on H-2 southbound towards the H-1/H-2 merge. My wife called me to tell me about it, but H-1 traffic eastbound into Honolulu was totally normal for a Saturday morning—no panic observed.
— Andy Mukk (@AndyMukk) January 14, 2018
Had just made my cup of coffee was looking through my messages and boom the alarm came to my phone. First I was shocked than I was terrified…!!! Didn’t know what to do or where to go and that’s unacceptable being a citizen of these Islands for over 20 yrs…!!!
— Kitty Macon (@KittyMacon) January 13, 2018
In bed. Ignored it. Roommates panicked, told them only about 12 min warning, don’t drive anywhere. No siren or stuff on radio, guessed false alarm. I live in a cracker box, so no where to go.
— Tanya Harrison (@pamayink) January 13, 2018
My husband and I did not, our 17 year old daughter did. I was asleep and woke up to texts from friends asking what was happening. Panic ensued while I tried to reach family on the mainland to say goodbye & tell them we love them.
— Ashlee (@cadyheron808) January 14, 2018
At Sandy Beach walking the dog. Continued walking! No place to take cover!!! Figured was false alarm since no emergency sirens😳❣️
— Jerry Vares (@hansumteacha) January 15, 2018
In bed 🛏
— maggiestorm68 (@maggiestorm68) January 14, 2018
HONOLULU Magazine reached out to Facebook followers to share their experiences. Many were clearly seriously shaken by the emergency alert:
After it was clear that the alert was a mistake rather than an actual attack, many found humor in the situation. Here are some memes that are making the rounds: