15 Minutes

You never know it’s going to be your last day…until it is.  That’s what many people in Hawaii thought when we received an emergency alert that a nuclear ballistic missile was inbound and on its way to annihilate our islands.  We were notified previously, that upon receiving this message, you have 15 minutes to get to a safe place.  15 minutes.  15 fucking minutes.  That’s only enough time for a good shit.  What the fuck are we supposed to do in 15 minutes??  It’s a pretty indescribable feeling when you think you only have 15 minutes left to live.  A thousand emotions and thoughts run through your brain and you either stay calm….or freak the fuck out.

Another huge problem is, we live on an island and there are no real safe places.  We do not have nuclear fallout shelters and barely any homes here have basements.  Basically…we have 15 minutes until we die a horrible death.  Prepare yourselves.  That’s the message we got that morning.

So what the fuck happened?

At approximately 8:05am, Saturday, January 13, 2018:  A routine internal test during a shift change at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency was initiated.  This employee apparently PUSHED THE WRONG BUTTON.

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A devastating and unfortunate mistake.  At 8:07am:  A warning test is triggered and everyone with a smartphone received this message:

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The words “THIS IS NOT A DRILL” was legit the most terrifying thing I have ever read. And immediately, people started reacting.

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Alerts continued over the television and radio.  Panic ensued.

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People quickly jumped on social media, the news stations, the radio…but received no information whatsoever.  We didn’t have a clue as to what the fuck was happening.

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Then the running started.

I heard people were driving like they were racing Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious, driving at speeds of 100 miles per hour and barreling through red lights, just to get somewhere safe.  I can imagine some accidents may have been caused.

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Parents had to hold it together and explain to their children what the the hell was happening.

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People at home, like me, barricaded themselves in a bedroom or bathroom.

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Some folks outside even got into sewers.

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Some stayed where they were and prayed.

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And others, like my parents, didn’t really care.  My parents were at a restaurant when the alert sounded.  The restaurant closed down and people left…while my parents just sat there and finished their breakfast.

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While there were police who took to the streets with bullhorns and politicians posting on social media, it actually took 38 minutes for an official false alarm alert to notify the people of Hawaii.

Now I don’t know about you, but 38 minutes is a really long time to be thinking that you could die at any minute.  I thank the cellphone gods that texting and the internet worked while this was all happening.  Because while social media can wreck havoc….in this case…it was a savior.

This was a major wake up call to the state of Hawaii, and how ill prepared we all are in a catastrophic situation.  My emergency kit was literally a plastic bag with bottled water in it.

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We would have definitely died.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Costco and Sams Club sold out of their emergency kits, bottled water, and toilet paper.  Mass hysteria = mass toilet paper outage.

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Don’t mistake these gifs as an attempt to make fun of what happened to Hawaii.  This was a terrifyingly real situation and most of us were scared out of our minds.  Many of us communicated with our loved ones and said our last goodbyes.  Parents had to abandon their children at soccer games and dance classes, as there was no time to go back and get them.  We truly believed this could have been our last 15 minutes on Earth and we did as much as we knew how to.  This just goes to show that our emergency system needs to improve and that everyone, not only in Hawaii, but the rest of the United States, needs to be more prepared for situations likes these.  This incident just reinforces the fact that it’s really easy for some asshole to push a button.

As we speak, I have an emergency food supply kit, a 100 gallon water bag, and a crank radio awaiting delivery.  We are going to be more prepared next time, you best believe that.

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