At a press conference hours after a false alert about a ballistic missile was sent, the administrator of Hawaii Office of Emergency Management (HI-EMA) said his team had been preparing for the worst-case scenario for months. “The threat is there,” said Vern Miyagi.
Just after 8 a.m. on Saturday, an alert was sent to mobile phones and televisions warning of an incoming ballistic missile heading toward the island. Although the alert was determined to be sent in error shortly afterward, many scrambled for shelter and called loved ones to say goodbye.
Miyagi said that on Saturday at approximately 8:05 a.m., a routine test was initiated during a shift change. Although Miyagi said there is a message “are you sure you want to send,” it was sent anyway. In the future, Miyagi said, there will be two people to push that alert button. There will also be a cancellation message implemented.
The alert was sent to the Emergency Alert System, the Wireless Emergency Alert but not the sirens, although some sirens did go off. Hawaii Gov. David Ige said there will be an investigation into why the sirens sounded.
Miyagi emphasized that he regrets Saturday’s error, but he said “it brings the awareness up to this level.”
Miyagi said Saturday that if the alert is sent in the “actual event,” there will be 12-14 minutes before the impact. He said Hawaii doesn’t have fallout shelters, and even if there were any, residents probably wouldn’t have time to reach them.
The false alarm sent Hawaii residents and visitors into a panic, scrambling for any shelter they could find, from storm drains to bathtubs to basements.