Hawaii’s infamous missile alert mistake served as a tough lesson learned

Changes in procedures have taken place one year later.
On the morning of Jan. 13, thousands in Hawaii got an emergency warning on cell phones and on...
On the morning of Jan. 13, thousands in Hawaii got an emergency warning on cell phones and on televisions that stated, "THIS IS NOT A DRILL."(HNN File (custom credit))
Updated: Jan. 14, 2019 at 6:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After an embarrassing error of sending a state into panic over a non-existent missile threat, state leaders came under intense criticism and scrutiny.

Since that Jan. 13 morning, all ballistic missile alarms have been shelved.

“The key is that we’ve evaluated our procedures at the state warning point, which is where the alarms are issued and would be retracted.”

Hawaii’s top Emergency Management official Tom Travis says his agency is better prepared to alert the state in case of a real crisis.

“There is always room for improvement but I think we’ve been tested in fire in the last year and I hope the people that have watched us feel some confidence that we’re approaching our job professionally and responsibly and doing what we need to do to get the resources we need when a disaster strikes,” Tom Travis of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said.

The man responsible for the false missile alert was fired by the state agency and is now on the mainland.

A state investigation claimed the man was a problem employee, but his attorney said he was made to be the scapegoat and that the false missile alert was the result of miscommunication.

“This was almost setup for failure. When they gave the responsibility to this organization for missile crisis and things like that — nobody thought of that they are looking for tsunamis — there is never going to be a missile attack here,” attorney Michael Green said.

One of Hawaii’s most talented slack key guitarists has spent the last year reflecting on that traumatic January day

“The experience for me during those 38 minutes before we were notified that it was a false missile alert was ironically an experience of pure love,” musician Makana said.

It ultimately brought him to a decommissioned bomb shelter in Moscow where he filmed the music video for one of his latest songs “Mourning Armageddon.”

“I didn’t know what it was about at the time because it was just coming through me but as I looked back — transcribed what I channeled, the words — I realized the song was really, a cry for peace.”

Following the missile alert crisis, several bills were introduced in Congress, including one by Senator Brian Schatz that would end the ability to opt out of alerts and also use online video and audio streaming services to alert the public.

That legislation would also give the federal government the primary responsibility to alert the public in the event of a missile threat.

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