BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
That message showed up on many cellphones– but not all– in Hawaii Saturday morning.
New York Times:
An early-morning emergency alert mistakenly warning of an incoming ballistic missile attack was dispatched to cellphones across Hawaii on Saturday, setting off widespread panic in a state that was already on edge because of escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea.
First, Hawaii is not and has not been on edge because of tensions with North Korea. Second, there was no widespread panic– at least not in Honolulu.
Hawaii has been on high emotional alert — it began staging monthly air-raid drills, complete with sirens, in December — since President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, began exchanging nuclear threats.
We have such drills every month. At the same time. With sirens.
Within moments of the first announcement, people flocked to shelters, crowding highways in scenes of terror and helplessness. Emergency sirens wailed in parts of the state, adding to the panic.
No, people did not flock to shelters, and highways were not crowded, and there were few scenes of terror or helplessness. From the moment of the first alarm we drove from Waikiki around Diamond Head (breakfast overlooking the ocean) through Kaimuki, through downtown Honolulu, through Kalihi, toward Pearl Harbor.
No crowds, no flocks of helpless people, few terror-filled residents, no mass hysteria. Parts of Pearl Harbor had sirens, quickly stopped once officials realized the alert was a false alarm. Most residents figured that out within minutes because the civil defense sirens did not sound, radio stations were not alerted, and not all cell phones received the alarm. It was interesting.