Influenza has reached epidemic levels in 49 of these United States. The lucky state without the dreaded flu (for now) is Hawaii. Hawaii, however, had its own scare Saturday.
First: Cell phones across Hawaii received an emergency alert telling them in all caps:
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Parents called their children. Young adults called their parents. Those who could, sought shelter. Those who had no way of getting out of harm’s way – well, all did what they could.
For 38 minutes, people prepared and panicked and told their loved ones – if we’re completely honest here, folks, people called their loved ones to say goodbye. They called to say love you, love you forever, I may not survive the day.
Then the announcement came: FALSE ALARM! Roadside signs announced NO THREAT! Word on social media spread that the cause of this outrageous scare was due to a “wrong button pushed” during a shift change. The governor came on (after a long wait – he’ll take flack for that) and assured the residents and visitors to his state that “steps have been taken to ensure that a situation of this type will never happen again.”
Mr. Governor has a tough road ahead of him. We in the continental U.S. join our island friends in asking questions, too.
- What took so long? In today’s techie world, 38 minutes? Did no one notice sooner?
- Why did social media hit the story ages before the mainstream media? Not even a crawl addressed this in cable news or on the major networks – even after the 38 minute long scare.
- Where was our president? Did no one inform him? Did he even care?
- On the other hand, maybe we should be glad he was heavily into a golf game and didn’t have a knee-jerk reaction that would send out an attack in response to a perceived threat.
- Think about it. One wrong button pushed? I have a hard time believing that a single click or press could result in an emergency announcement of this magnitude. Steps taken after the fact may be too little, too late.
- Think long run: how will this affect travelers’ willingness to visit the Aloha state?
Hawaiians and tourists, I feel for you. For once in my life, I’m grateful to be in the middle of the heartland, surrounded by the Great Lakes instead of the Pacific Ocean. I can’t say I mind the cold and the snow. I’ll deal with the below-zero wind chills; I’ll power through the snowdrifts. I’ll wrap myself in blankets and give thanks that my fair city is unlikely to be target for a missile attack, unless that missile is a football soaring over Clay Mathews’ head into an opponent’s arms.
Still, I have questions. I’m sure many thousands of others have questions, too.
I cannot imagine how terrifying that was. I heard them discussing it with a reporter on NPR who was actually there with her kids.