BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Following a false alarm that warned of a ballistic missile headed for Hawaii this past weekend, officials have pledged that the blunder will never happen again.
The panic came within seconds of a cellphone alert Saturday morning throughout the islands.
The alert stated: “A MISSILE IMPACT ON LAND OR SEA WITHIN MINUTES. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
The unthinkable became all too real for nearly 40 minutes.
Jenny Craig, who grew up in Baltimore and moved to Hawaii five years ago, rushed to reach family in Maryland.
“Oh my God, I’ve got to call my children,” Craig remembered thinking. “I’ve got to call my mom in Baltimore. I have to let everybody know that this may be the last time that I speak with them.”
Officials say a button was pushed in the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency during a shift change while running a test. The alert went out to hundreds of thousands of cellphones.
Emergency Management Director Vern Miyagi did not try to escape blame for the false alarm, saying: “I accept responsibility for this. This is my team. We made a mistake.”
To correct it, it will now take two people to independently activate the missile alert, as that was cited as a mistake with its own unique fallout.
“People were just in shock and the beaches cleared in minutes,” said tourist Peter McLoughlin.
It took 38 minutes for Hawaii’s emergency management agency to post another alert saying there was no missile heading for Hawaii.
Craig said it was a very long 38 minutes between the two alerts.