When you wake up one morning, grab breakfast and begin to get ready for a beach day, you don’t expect to hear what sounds like an Amber Alert ringing on your phone. I looked at my screen and read aloud the words I was seeing:
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
This is not a drill. How could this be? I immediately suspected a hack. It had to be! I looked over at my husband, though, and his face said he didn’t think so at all.
We grabbed the remote and flipped through the channels, looking for any sort of news. We picked up the hotel room phone and called the front desk only to hear a busy message. I scrolled through Twitter looking for any sign of whether this was a real alert, but I only found tweets asking the same.
What were we supposed to do? Were we in danger?
After notifying a few family members, just in case, we decided to head downstairs to see what others were doing. From our balcony we had seen both people running toward the lobby and others lounging on their chairs, soaking up the sun.
On the elevator, a man told us he was headed to his room because “what else can you do?”
No one seemed to know whether to actually be concerned. Most figured a ballistic missile would be directed at Oahu vs. the Big Island, which is maybe true but doesn’t make the situation any less scary.
A small crowd had started to gather around the concierge desk, one of many throughout the sprawling resort, which had many towers. A maintenance/resort worker called out that anyone who wanted to follow him to the basement was free to do so. He unlocked a door and many of us followed him down the stairs to a service tunnel, where we spent the next, I don’t know, 25 minutes?
A woman came over to us and handed V a snack. Some people laughed nervously while others stared at their phones. You could see the stress in my husband’s eyes.
It wasn’t until then that we were notified by a manager that we were never in any real danger, and that he apologized for what we experienced.
It wasn’t until 38 minutes after the initial alert at 8:07 a.m. local time that a correction was sent out.
There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.”
By then we were in our room again. It’s weird, though, I didn’t feel any sort of anxiety until I knew it wasn’t real. But from then on, I was on edge. All day long. It was then that I thought, What if it were real? How can people live under this ever-present threat?
As you can imagine, I was reminded yet again how lucky I am for so many things.
We did end up going to the beach and you can watch the video below. While it looks like a magical, gorgeous day — and it was — just know that behind every social media post is a story. It’s not all rainbows!
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