After false Hawaii missile alert, emergency warning system must be fixed

Chelsea West
January 19, 2018

Officials said that if a missile is launched from North Korea, an alert could give people about 15-20 minutes notice. The government J alert: "evacuate inside the building or underground".

A mobile alert informing of the false alarm didn't reach mobile phones until about 40 minutes later.

A screenshot of the controls for signaling a ballistic missile alert are a list of hyperlinks which are mixed in with links to drills, road closures and surf warnings.

The emergency alert was sent to cellphones statewide at about 8:10 a.m. and stated: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII".

The resulting alert went to more than a million cell phones in Hawaii and warned of an incoming ballistic missile.

The agency followed up with a cellphone alert 38 minutes later saying the initial alert was a false alarm.

"It couldn't hurt to take another look at the lash-up with federal authorities to see if there is anything more that can be done to validate the flow of basic information".

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Rapoza says his agency asked FEMA for clarification on Saturday whether rescinding an alert was an appropriate use of the warning system. The Jasper County Emergency Management Agency in Joplin has a few selective individuals who can access the alert systems.

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"It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the changeover of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button", Gov. David Ige said.

Hawaii officials initially set out this weekend to test their state's emergency preparedness, as fears about the nuclear standoff between the US and North Korea intensify. "THIS IS NOT A DRILL", the emergency alert read. If it's noon on the second Wednesday of the month - yes, Wednesday; the Emergency Management Agency changed the testing day this month - and the siren sounds for three minutes, we should know that it's simply a test.

"This had the potential for being totally catastrophic", Hirono said.

"Federal, state, and local officials throughout the country need to work together to identify any vulnerabilities to false alerts and do what's necessary to fix them", Pai continued.

The FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center, Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency are monitoring the situation, a United States official told CNN.

According to Eliot Calhoun, a disaster planner for New York's Emergency Management Department, the best thing to do if there was an attack from Kim Jong-un's hermit state would be to remain indoors.

When there is a Shelter-in-Place situation, parents and guardians are also advised to do so as well, and avoid picking up children at school, she said.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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