What do you do when you have twelve minutes to potentially live or die? Saturday morning our Hawaiian Islands were rattled, as we quickly awoke in our hotel on the island of Kauai. Listening to the crashing of the ocean, I slowly reached over to grasp my glasses and IPhone from the nightstand & read the following message.
“EMERGENCY ALERT, BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL”
My mind immediately started to process and the retail trainer/facilitator in me started to work. Before I knew it, probing questions were filtering through my mind. Who, what, when, where, why? There was no time to panic and before we could react there had to be an immediate plan.
Suddenly, all these details that have been shared with us from the Hawaii government since the “War Games” threats began at the end of last year started to fill my head.
• Hawaii is about 4,600 miles from North Korea and a nuclear missile launched from there could reportedly be here in about 12-15 minutes.
• According to Hawaii Emergency Management Administration, current estimates of human causalities based on the size of North Korean nuclear weapon technology strongly suggest that an explosion would be less than 6 miles in diameter.
• “More than 90 percent of the population would survive the direct effects of such an explosion,” HEMA said in a fact sheet. “Planning and preparedness are essential to protect those survivors from delayed residual radiation and other effects of the attack.”
• “If a missile is launched from North Korea, the warning time available for Hawaii is only 15 minutes or less. Given the short timeframe, the public will have little time to react,” the release said. “The public is advised to prepare and exercise a plan for their families ahead of time.”
• Do I make a call to my parents and tell them I love them or do I just send a text and hope for the best?
A sick pit began to settle in my stomach as we pulled all the down pillows and comforters from the bed and huddled on the cold marble floor of the hotel bathroom. Before we could get settled, the hotel announced on an intercom that all guests should evacuate to the underground back of house. We were then informed there would be an investigation to verify the message we had all received on our devices and they would share more information as it became available. That is when it all got real.
I quickly went into think fast mode. My first thought was to grab all the things contestants on a reality show would bring before being dropped on a remote island and left to survive. Knowing we would potentially would not have power and need to stay inside for 2 weeks or more, I started to layer on clothes, lace up sneakers and lastly make sure I had my wallet with ID. Finally, we grabbed Christian our dog and off we went.
The journey to the safe place was where it all started to come together and shock was over. Emotions and fear were settling in. I was suddenly filled with feelings that I had not experienced since a tragic September day back home in Washington, DC. A tragic day in our US history where all I was trying to do was evacuate my office at the Washington Design Center and find a safe place. It was a sense of fear and uncertainty that so many of us felt and hoped to never feel again. Like that terrible day all you could do was look up and pray nothing would be dropping from the sky. I can no way compare the two days but the emotions and thoughts were so similar and not knowing if you would survive was the same.
Fortunately after the longest twelve minutes of my life along with another twenty minutes, we were finally notified that it was a false alarm.
Why today do I share this? The emotions that I had were overwhelming for me and fellow Hawaiians and tourists from all over the world. You might have not felt the impact of our morning while you were going about your Saturday on the mainland. In many cases I had friends reaching out to me hours after the incident, as they just weren’t aware. But can you only imagine how you would have reacted knowing that you might only have a few hours left to live? What would you do? My Hawaiian family and friends have all been in a state of “disbelief”. People were opening manhole covers and dropping their children underground, students at the university were running to take cover and people in their cars were essentially stuck with no where to go. Are you prepared? This is no longer a threat to Hawaii but it is reality to all of the United States. We are now living in era of a true survivor reality show lead by a former reality personality. We must, as American citizens be there to support each other, have a plan and be ready. Aloha and God Bless America!
Mulberry Seed Design