Today was a terrifying day in Hawaii. If you haven’t heard, an alert was issued across the state that a nuclear missile was launched and we were told to take shelter. I will cut to the end of the story and say that it was issued in error and that everyone is fine, if a little emotionally shaken.
Today, by 8 o’clock I had been awake for a couple of hours because my baby wakes up before dawn to start her day. I had just put her down for her first of the day’s naps when I finally saw the emergency alert on my phone. It had been issued several minutes before I read it but I went into fight mode. A million thoughts raced through my head in a few minutes. I had to find the local news on TV, I thought frantically. My husband was at work and I know it would have taken too long to try to reach him. I couldn’t find my local news so I grabbed my emergency crank radio (the only one we have that isn’t in my car) but I couldn’t get it to work because I was in too much of a rush. I went upstairs and grabbed a bag and started shoving diapers and the stupid radio in it as I went to wake up my baby. But where would we go? How does one hide from a nuclear missile when one gets only a few minutes warning? I believe Indiana Jones hid in an old refrigerator but that wouldn’t work. (Pretty sure they tested that on Mythbusters.) So which room in my house would I hide in? The only rooms without windows are a tiny downstairs half bathroom and a walk in closet (which you have to walk through a full bathroom with two windows to get to.) How safe would we be? Not safe at all.
My thoughts turned to my baby and my cat. I vaguely thought we’d drive to the closest base to us, one which technically I wouldn’t be allowed on. Would they let us on in an emergency? Would we have time to drive thither? I had the choice to grab my baby or my cat and my heart broke as I chose my baby. My cat delights in hiding during the day when my baby is a little noisy. And I knew I only had moments to get my baby girl in her car seat, grab the diaper bag and anything else I could grab as I ran out the door and into the car.
Anyways, in the midst of my vague plans and panicked thoughts, it came out that the alert had been falsely issued and I could do nothing else but sink to the floor crying. Before I knew it was erroneous, all of my energy went to trying to do “the right thing,” whatever that could be. But as soon as I knew it was all safe, that energy turned into tears. My Sir even called from work to tell me he loved me and see if I was OK. He saw the information and came out to call.
In the aftermath of the island’s terrified panic, we all seemed to be talking about it on social media. Many are outraged that it took nearly 40 minutes for the state to issue the information to our phones that there was no threat. It was real for us for a few minutes and now we need to come down from our adrenaline and fear. I have no idea if the sirens in my town went off but if they did, I did not hear them. That can’t be a good sign. I wasn’t being loud–I was only singing a lullaby to my baby to get her to sleep, so if they went off there should be no reason why I couldn’t hear them.
I’ve thought about this all day. I was woefully unprepared and I know that I and many of my friends will be making better plans. But what if it had been a real threat? At one point all I could think was that nowhere on this tiny island can truly provide sufficient shelter from an ICBM so I should go in and wake my napping baby and hold her and if we died, at least we’d die together. How’s that for a sobering thought? I called a friend and asked her to come to hang out because I needed someone. It turned out to be the best medicine. We both got to vent and discuss our experiences and frustrations and then we got good distraction for a few hours from thinking about our inevitable doom. My baby provided lots of cuteness and smiles.
But really. What would you do if you got the warning on your phone that a missile was inbound and you knew you had only minutes to “prepare?” I will discuss plans in case this happens again with my Sir. But mostly I will give my family and friends extra hugs.