Imagine receiving an alert on your phone saying there’s an incoming ballistic missile – and the message added, this is not a drill.
That nightmare played out for over a half-hour for people in Hawaii this weekend.
A worker at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency clicked the wrong choice on a computer drop-down menu and, instead of starting a routine internal drill, triggered an actual public warning message.
It wasn’t until 38 minutes later that a second message went out, giving the all-clear and telling people the orignal message was a mistake.
What a half-hour that must have been for the millions of people on the Hawaiian Islands – thinking maybe North Korea had launched a nuke in their direction.
No such accidental warning has ever gone out in North Dakota – but it’s fairly reasonable for us to think we could be a target for a hostile nation’s attack.
That’s because all around us – at least in north-central North Dakota – are nuclear warheads buried in the ground atop intercontinental missiles.
150 of the nation’s 450-strong land-based nuclear missiles are right here – surrounding the Minot Air Force Base.
So why wouldn’t an enemy try to take them out?
I started wondering how people around here might react…
“I’d be scared to death to tell you the truth. I would have been freightened because it seemed so real – I saw it come up on my computer here later in the day and I thought oh my Lord.”
“I’d call all my kids and I’d get on my knees and thank God I was going to heaven.”
“I was discussing that with my husband this morning and we actually joked about just going and laying in the street and saying here I am, because we would have no options.”
Here’s hoping you never have to worry about such a mistaken warning – or, the real thing!
By the way, the other 300 nuclear missiles in the nation’s aresnal are in Montana around Malmstrom Air Force Base, and near F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado.
And one other note – the state worker responsible for sending out the warning in Hawaii has been reassigned, and managers say the system is being re-worked to make such an incident much less likely.