I Was in Hawaii During the False Missile Alarm

Jan 13, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

At 8:08am Hawaii time, I was excavating a yellow passionfruit to go with a bowl of yogurt in my suite at the Hotel Wailea, a Relaix & Chateau property in Maui, when my phone buzzed. “Emergency Alert,” it said calmly, before changing to frantic all-caps: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

Photo courtesy Adam Erace

For the next 15 or so minutes, my wife and I wandered around our room, dumb-struck and shoving laptops and chargers and cash into a backpack. We’re not from Hawaii, where locals have more consciousness of a threat like this than sunburned East Coast interlopers. Emergency services regularly run tests in the islands. But this, as the alert noted, was not a test.

I called down to the front desk — busy — and eventually got through to the concierge, who calmly explained she had no information and that the staff was trying to find out more. No air-raid sirens — there would be air-raid sirens, right? — pierced the morning. Outside on my suite’s lanai, the view was blue and clear, the Kaho’olawe nature preserve a humpbacked shadow offshore. Could you see a missile incoming?

We put on the TV — nothing — so turned to Twitter. I searched “Hawaii alert,” which returned a stack of anxiety and confusion. The first tweet I saw suggesting the alert was a mistake came from Jason Parker (@NutzFordBucks), a member of the Army stationed at Schofield Barracks, Honolulu. It was at 8:16am, 8 minutes after the alert.

Photo courtesy Adam Erace

Parker’s military status gave his tweet more legitimacy than it might have otherwise and cooled off our nerves, but still, no other users were corroborating. At 8:24am, Jake Tapper re-tweeted a post from Hawaiian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, confirming the alert was a mistake and there were no missiles headed toward Hawaii. CNN broke into its usual news show around the same time.

Photo courtesy Adam Erace

Here’s the rub: Hawaiian emergency management did not confirm the false alarm until 8:46am, 38 minutes after every iPhone in Hawaii received the news, via another iPhone alert and emergency message on TV. That delay is almost as unacceptable as the alert being sent in the first place. There’s plenty bad to say about social media, but in this case, Twitter got the news out faster than traditional media and the government.

Image courtesy Hotel Wailea
Photo by Hotel Wailea

I’m finally sitting down to eat my yogurt with passionfruit. I’ll be following it up shortly with three drinks minimum at the Hotel Wailea’s beautiful pool.

Featured image by mattjeacock/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.