It’s taken me over a week to write this blog post, mostly because I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to write it; not because I didn’t want to get my words out there, but mostly because I had a lot of words and didn’t know where to begin.
On Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 8:09 AM I woke up to this text on my phone: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” I immediately was as alert as could be; it’s definitely the type of alarm that will even wake the dead from their eternal slumber. A million thoughts ran through my head as I jumped out of bed, mostly thoughts of astonishment and worry. Astonishment because I really didn’t expect this to be happening and worry because we are in no way prepared for the devastation that would take place. I’m sure 1.43 million other people felt similar emotions.
The next thing that happened was a rush of events…I was the only one home and only for a minute was I able to get on the phone to speak with my mom and brother who were headed home as fast as they could. Shortly after that, I was unable to make any calls. I then tried to search for information online to see if USPACOM (United States Pacific Command) released any information. After that was unsuccessful I then searched local news sources, my emails to see if anyone sent me information, and Hawaii DoD; all came up empty. The only place I didn’t think to check was Twitter. Shortly after my quest for information, the internet was too slow to get back online. This was a horrible feeling, if I’m being honest. The feeling of being unable to get ANY information.
My mom and brother arrived home pretty quickly; probably within 5 minutes of when the alert was sent. We moved as quick as possible to secure our house (i.e. close all windows, seal the windows that were without glass, and my brother brought out enough firepower should we need it #ProtectTheHomefront). We took the animals downstairs, quickly grabbed the cat and dog food, closed the doors, and waited. In between waiting, some of my brother’s friends had called to let him know that they heard it was fake. However, just to be sure, we waited until we received the second alert stating: “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.”
It took the residents of Hawaii 38 minutes to receive the all-clear from the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency. 38 minutes of not really knowing what was happening. Of course, in the actual event of a missile alert, we’d only have less than 15 minutes before the attack/nuclear fallout. Yet even knowing that information, 38 minutes of not knowing anything that was going on, well that was truly alarming. I was worried for my dad who was busy managing the security of an entire hospital all the way on the other side of the island. I was worried for my mom and brother. I was worried for our pets. I was worried for our neighbors. I was worried for the entire state. I was worried about the after effects of the initial attack; 10% of the population would be killed, the island would be contaminated with the fallout, and there would be people/animals that would need care and they might not be able to receive it. Let’s just say, it was a good feeling when the all-clear was sent out.
The missile alert made me realize that we need to be better prepared; within our home and our state — this type of ‘mistake’ should never happen.
I also kept thinking during those 38 minutes that it’s important to love each other, to let go of what holds us down and really grasp what makes us leap with joy to be alive; I kept wondering if that is how I lived and that I really hoped things would turn out fine for all. It did turn out fine. And life will go on. However, we all should really love our loved ones, pursue what sets our souls on fire, live a life that is bold, and always have the dessert if you want it.