Employee error causes chaos in Hawaii

Imagine being woken up on a Saturday morning to this terrifying message on your phone.

Imagine being woken up on a Saturday morning to this terrifying message on your phone.

Isabel Platis, News Editor

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For the past couple months, Hawaii has been preparing for the possibility of a nuclear attack taking place on the island. This preparation began after a series of threats made by North Korean leader Kin Jong Un, claiming that their missile range had been extended. Warning siren tests have been taking place in order to make the citizens of Hawaii aware of the possibility of such an attack. The last time these monthly tests took place was the end of the Cold War.

Uneasiness spread through the Aloha State when the news of these tests was first announced in December, but since then people have gotten used to it and things have calmed down a bit. However, Saturday, January 13th, chaos spread through the state again when an emergency alert was sent to everyone urging citizens to seek shelter immediately due to an inbound missile threat. The message ended with the sentence “This is not a drill.” People everywhere hunkered down and feared for their life for 38 minutes, until another message was sent out announcing that it was in fact a false alarm. According to witnesses, people were seeking shelter by climbing down manholes. Others who tried to find the nearest store or building were rejected by the owners as they locked the doors to protect themselves. Major highways were crowded with anxious people trying to get to shelter and lots of abandoned cars littered roadways as their occupants fled towards shelter. Nobody really knew what to think and there weren’t any bomb shelters to go to. Information was later released claiming that someone from Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency hit the wrong template during a routine drill. Governor David Ige apologized for the mistake and said that the siren tests would be suspended while they investigated the incident even further. The employee who hit the wrong button has recently been fired.

For people in Hawaii, this false alarm has raised questions on whether they can trust the system anymore. God forbid there ever is a real threat; will people in Hawaii take it seriously? Or will they think it’s just another mistake? On the day after the false threat, agency administrator Vern Miyagi mentioned in an interview to CNN that “I have to re-establish credibility because we lost quite a bit yesterday.” In order to do so, Miyagi believes “the way you do it at the end of the day is performing correctly. I think it’s incumbent that the next test go smoothly.” The Emergency Management Agency is hoping for a better drill next month, but for now, the citizens of Hawaii are trying their best to forget about the panic that ensued over the weekend.

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