State civil defense, military ready for possible North Korea missile launch - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State civil defense, military ready for possible North Korea missile launch

Jerry Kaulei Jerry Kaulei
Clifford Florival Clifford Florival
Maj. Gen. Robert Lee Maj. Gen. Robert Lee
Angel Eschenroeder Angel Eschenroeder

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - President Barack Obama says the U.S. is "fully prepared" should North Korea carry out its threat of launching a missile towards Hawaii next month. It's scheduled to happen on the Fourth of July, which falls on a Saturday this year.

The state department is taking this very seriously, and the state civil defense has had numerous closed door meetings with the U.S. Pacific Command to make sure the people of Hawaii are safe this Independence Day.

Locals and visitors mingle in Waikiki, one of the busiest spots on Oahu. This island holds three-quarters of the state's population. But reports from Japan indicate North Korea is planning a missile launch aimed at Hawaii on the Fourth of July.

"So far as I know as long as they're aiming it, to me it's a declaration of war," said Jerry Kaulei, a Kaaawa resident.

"I'm hoping it won't happen but in this world -- I live in New York City, I saw 9/11 -- anything can happen," said Clifford Florival, a newlywed vacationing in Hawaii.

President Obama is taking this very seriously and the state department is sending extra military resources to our islands.

If North Korea launches a missile towards Hawaii, it could theoretically reach us in 20 minutes. But the state civil defense and the military say they have systems in place to deal with potential threats.

They have updated their contingency plan on how to deal with a potential missile strike. They're also testing out their early warning system.

"In this case, we would sound the sirens and ask our residents and visitors to stay indoors to protect families against falling of potential debris," said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, the director of the state civil defense.

North Korea's long range missile capabilities have fallen short in the past. In April, they launched Taepodong 2, a rocket carrying a satellite into space, but it never made it. State civil defense officials believe the same could happen this time around.

"Reaching Hawaii and hitting something is a huge difference," said Maj. Gen. Lee, "but should they get lucky and come first, our missile defense and our military assets, we have the state of Hawaii covered."

This military family is confident no harm's going to come our way.

"How's your Fourth of July going to be this year?" asked KHNL.

"The same as every year," said Angel Eschenroeder, a military wife whose husband works at Pearl Harbor. "We're going to go up to Schofield, watch the fireworks and barbecue with friends and just make memories with our kids."

"So no change from last year?" asked KHNL.

"No, none whatsoever," she answered.

And others are keeping their fingers crossed.

"I'm hoping, I'm praying it will be safe," said Florival.

Hoping for a quiet Fourth of July.

Early last year, a Pearl Harbor-based Navy ship successfully shot down a wayward spy satellite. So the military is very confident it is able to handle any North Korean missile that comes our way.

Again, the advice is to continue your Fourth of July activities as planned, and if there is a problem, we will be notified via sirens, and announcements on the radio and TV.

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