Missile Strike on Hawaii Time, Up Close and Personal…
Author’s note: My sister, who requested I not use her name for this article, lives in Kihei on the island of Maui. I interviewed her the day after the January 13 inbound ballistic missile scare. Below is her chilling account of her experience.
Saturday morning, around 8 o’clock, I was driving from my home in Kihei to the Maui Humane Society out in the central valley – in the middle of nowhere – to do some agility training with my dog Gibson. When I was almost there, the civil defense alert broke into the radio show I was listening to. We hear that a lot in Hawaii, because we have tsunamis and hurricanes, so you get used to hearing the civil defense sound on your phone, your TV, your radio. Then on the first of every month they test the huge air raid sirens.
But this wasn’t the first of the month. I thought maybe the alert was a flash flood warning, because we’ve had some flash flooding this winter. But it was a beautiful morning, with not a cloud in the blue, blue sky.
Then the civil defense recording started. It said there is an imminent ballistic missile impact headed towards the Hawaiian Islands – impact either on land or sea. “This is not a drill. This is not a drill”. Then they started giving instructions about immediately sheltering in place because the imminent impact is within minutes.
It took a moment for the “This is not a drill” to sink in, and I thought, holy shit, is this the beginning of the end? This is our Armageddon? North Korea has the ability to do what they want to do with their nuclear missles, and they have repeatedly mentioned Guam and the Hawaiian Islands. I don’t like to think about nuclear warheads hitting our beautiful island, but we’re a target.
I’m on the state highway that connects Kihei to Kahului, and all these people are doing high speed U-turns over the highway median. They’re hearing what I’m hearing, and they’re thinking what I’m thinking. “I’ve got to get home.” It’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning, and everyone is headed out to go golfing or surfing. The surf was great that morning.
The civil defense instructions continued. If you are driving, stop and find the closest shelter. If you are in a shelter, go to the lowest floor. Go to the underground level of a parking garage. I don’t know of any parking garages that have an underground level! We’re built on volcanic rock!
Then I rationalized that they wouldn’t aim a missile at Maui, but at Oahu, where the population density is greatest, and where the military is located. We’ve got nothing here in Maui but a bunch of tourists on a little rock, and sugar cane fields and pineapple fields. That’s it.
Pearl Harbor is a hundred-plus miles away, so we won’t be in the impact zone. But we’ll have to deal with fallout. We have duct tape to tape the windows, several cases of water, and dry food. The dogs can use the garage for their business.
I pulled into the Maui Humane Society parking lot, and one of the women I was meeting for agility practice was there by her car, staring at her cell phone, trying to figure out what was going on. I told her, “You need to lock the gates and get home. This is serious. There’s an inter-continental ballistic missile headed to the Islands. I’ve heard nothing that this isn’t real.”
I didn’t get out of my car. I didn’t want to spend time getting my purse and phone out of my trunk. I got back on the highway and headed home. This is a highway where people normally go 45 or 50 mph, and everyone was going 80, trying to get home. My husband was at home and my other dogs were home. I had to get back. If Armageddon is coming, I don’t want to spend it at Maui Humane Society. (Laughing). They’ll have to fend for themselves.
I was cranking it. I was going at least 80. This was it – our nuclear holocaust. Then, about two minutes down the highway, my brain started functioning again.
The radio station was back to playing rock n’ roll. (This sent the interviewer into hysterical laughter. If you’re going to your demise-by-holocaust, shouldn’t you go out with rock n’ roll?)
This is Maui, so a lot of the weekend programming is pre-recorded. But still, I would think that they would keep replaying the civil defense alert. That was my fist clue that something wasn’t right. I’m headed to a nuclear holocaust and listening to Aerosmith.
Then my brain kicked in a little more, and I wondered, “Why aren’t the sirens going off? They test these sirens all the time! This is the reason we have those sirens!”
So between rock n’ roll on my radio instead of civil defense, and no air raid sirens, I’m starting to settle down a bit. I slowed down from 80.
I drove into Kihei, and everything seemed normal. People were stopping at stop lights. There were no honking horns. It became surreal. But then I realized that all of these people could be listening to streamed music, and not the radio, and not have a clue. I passed a pack of about 15 road bicyclists, and realized they don’t have a clue.
Finally I made it home. I walked in the house, and there was my husband watching a football playoff game. He doesn’t have a clue! “Do you have any idea what’s going on right now? Didn’t your phone civil defense alert go off?” I told him about civil defense alert breaking into the radio play.
My husband’s cell phone was in the office. He got it, and Googled “missile attack on Hawaii”, and all this stuff came up on his phone saying that it was a mistake and that someone pushed the wrong button. I said a few really choice words about the Hawaiian government and civil defense. They couldn’t come back on the radio and say “Sorry, that was a mistake. Calm down”? They didn’t. It took them 38 minutes to say it was a mistake. That’s crazy!
You know the expression “Hawaii time”? This is a classic case of Hawaii time.