Phantom Missile Alert in Hawaii

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So what’s up with the missile attack warning that was sounded early this morning at the 8 o clock hour? Many Hawaii residents statewide got cell phone text messages that read:

“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT DRILL.”

Several of my friends got the message by cell phone text alert. I did not.

The first I heard about this was a text that I got from my friend Daniel which read: “Did you just get an emergency text????” I answered in the negative. No text message for me. He followed up, “I am not joking.” He attached the screen shot from his phone as shown below:

Emergency Text Message
The emergency text that came to many cell phone early this morning (Jan. 13).

A few moments later, my friend Lisa called. She was in a state of panic. It was aggravating to her since she is also down and out with a viral strain of influenza. She also got the emergency text message.

Talking to her on the phone, I told her that it was probably a false alarm, but also to listen to the radio. I began to think it was a false alarm even if I was worried for a few minutes after the initial call.

What prompted me to this was the fact that when I turned the radio to KSSK AM & FM (where they have in the past did outstanding broadcasts of local emergencies) there was nothing to be found except for a re-run of a previous Perry & Price radio program.

Nothing there. This is likely a false alarm.

While talking to Lisa on my landline phone, I called Daniel on the cell phone. He told me his wife Emma had called the 911 emergency number who told her that it was, indeed a false alarm.

Just to make doubly sure, I called 911 after I got off the phone with Daniel. By then everyone else was probably in a panic as the 911 number was busy. Pity the poor soul who had to call if it was an actual emergency. Goes to show that in a massive alert scenario, that calling 911 will likely yield a busy signal unless you get in early.

Soon I took to Facebook where my friends and others were commenting on the situation. In about a half hour it was agreed and known among many that the emergency texts were a false  alarm.

Surely someone at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has to take responsibility for this major false alarm. A breaking news article published at the Honolulu Star Advertiser website stated that an “employee pushed the wrong button,” during a shift change.

An investigation is likely pending. Governor David Ige had a few words to say at this press conference today (KHON TV video):

Vern T. Miyagi, Administrator for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency says they are investigating the incident and procedures. He did not or was not able to answer questions as to who specifically pressed the button at the agency and why not all cell phone users got the emergency text message.

The Governor and  agency have stated that they will not let this type of false alarm happen again.

There likely will be further news, discussion and legislative hearings on this in the coming days and weeks.

Hawaii can rest assured, that despite the dire warning and short term panic, that today’s “missile attack” was not the real thing. Perhaps it is a wake-up call to bring this issue to the forefront and help us be prepared for the next time.

 

 

 

 

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SBA Offers Disaster Assistance to Marco Polo Condo Fire Residents

Burned Out Marco Polo Condo

PRESS RELEASE

Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to Hawaii businesses and residents affected by the Marco Polo Fire that occurred July 14, 2017, U.S. Small Business Administration’s Administrator Linda McMahon announced on Wednesday. SBA acted under its own authority to declare a disaster in response to a request SBA received from Gov. David Ige on Sept. 8, 2017.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in Honolulu County.

“SBA is strongly committed to providing Hawaii with the most effective and customer-focused response possible, and we will be there to provide access to federal disaster loans to help finance recovery for businesses and residents affected by the disaster,” said McMahon. “Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to homeowners and renters whose property was damaged or destroyed by this disaster,” said SBA’s Hawaii District Director Jane Sawyer. “Beginning Thursday, Sept. 14, SBA representatives will be on hand at the following Disaster Loan Outreach Center to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their application,” Sawyer continued. The center will be open on the days and times indicated below. No appointment is necessary.

HONOLULU COUNTY
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
A.O.A.O. Marco Polo Apartments
2333 Kapiolani Blvd.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96826
Opens 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 14
Mondays – Fridays, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Closes 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The deadline to apply for property damage is Nov. 13, 2017. The deadline to apply for economic injury is June 11, 2018.

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Throwback Thursday: The 1946 Tsunami

Laupahoehoe Tsunami Memorial

Seventy years ago, the April 1, 1946 tsunami hit Hawaii and took more than 150 lives and caused $26 million worth of damage, mainly to the Hilo and Laupahoehoe areas of the Big Island. The killer waves originating from a large 8.6 magnitude earthquake in the Aleutian Islands destroyed the school on Laupahoehoe Point killing students and teachers who were there early that morning. The county seat of Hilo sustained major damage and loss of life. The giant waves destroyed the Hawaii Consolidated Railway system that once ran along the Hamakua Coast.

The dramatic photo at the top illustrates the terror of the approaching wave (center right) as people in Hilo fled to higher ground.

The tsunami caught Hawaii off guard since there was no advanced warning.

Hawaii was hit by two more deadly tsunamis. One was in 1960 and the other in 1975. The most recent tsunami to cause damage in Hawaii was the Japan earthquake tsunami of March 11, 2011.

Today we have a better understanding of earthquakes and tsunamis. An elaborate warning system in place consisting of sirens, satellites, radio and television broadcasts, internet alerts and cell phone text messages.

April is Tsunami Awareness Month. The Hawaii State Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) encourages the public to be prepared for tsunami and other disasters.

“There is no season for tsunamis,” says Vern Miyagi, Administrator of Emergency Management. “During a tsunami threat, people only have hours – sometimes minutes – to move to safety. For this reason, it is crucial that families and individuals have their survival kits ready ahead of time and emergency plans up to date so they can quickly respond and react in a safe and efficient manner.”

HI-EMA further states that “people located within a tsunami evacuation zone should quickly move to higher ground, or inland until they are at least 100 feet above sea level, while avoiding steep cliffs and watching for falling rocks. To find out if you live, work or play within a tsunami evacuation zone, turn to the disaster preparedness pages in your local telephone book or enter your address into the Tsunami Evacuation Zone Map Viewer, which is also linked from HI-EMA’s website at www.scd.hawaii.gov.

On Saturday, April 16, the Pacific Tsunami Museum (PTM) in Hilo will host an open house event with free admission to the public. During the event, PTM will unveil its brand new Science Room, which features an interactive Warning Center Simulation, among other activities.

Additional Information: HI-EMA Press Release (3-29-16); Tsunamis Remembered, University of Hawaii Center for Oral History; Laupahoehoe Train MuseumVideo: Leonie Poy, 1946 Laupahohoe Tsunami Survivor

 

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