KAMLOOPS — It was an alert that sent millions of people into panic mode. Many describing it as the most 'terrifying' minutes of their lives. Saturday's missile threat in Hawaii turned out to be false, human error that forced residents and vacationers on the paradise island to run for cover. The early morning emergency alert went out just after 8 a.m., lighting up phones of people still in bed, walking the beach, or out on the water. Just like so many, a Kamloops Real Estate agent vacationing with her family was swept up in the panic.
8:07 am. Sirens rang out and residents and tourists in Hawaii were faced with fear of an imminent nuclear missile attack. The laid-back island paradise immediately turned upside down.
"As time went on that's when my heart started to race and we started to panic, going is this legit or what? what's happening, and we thought we had to believe what we've been told," says Tracy Moffett, Royal LePage Westwin Realty.
She woke up in her Maui hotel room Saturday to an ominuous alert on her cell phone, claiming a BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT was headed for Hawaii. On vacation with her husband and 1-year old daughter, panic set in.
"The first thing I thought of and I don't know why, was I've got to grab her bottles and I've got to grab her formula, I don't know why those were the two things I thought of, but that's what I thought of, mother's instincts," says Moffett.
The alert sent by the Hawaii Emergency Mangement Agency turned out to be false. But for 38 minutes, people across the state were terrified, seeking shelter in bathrooms, stores and even a storm drain.
"There was a family that actually were hiding their kids and they took a manhole cover off and were having them go down into a sewer pipe it was crazy some of the things people were doing."
Officials blamed the recent blunder in Hawaii on an employee who 'pushed the wrong button'.
"I definitely think there's a flaw in their system for it to take so long to get that second text out to reassure people that it was a false alarm."
Already on edge because of escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, Saturday is the latest and most dramatic reminder of a deeply unsettling threat. Tracy Moffett and her family are now breathing a sigh of relief.
"Of course you have thoughts that run through your mind, was it really? Are they still investigating something? Is something really going to happen? You second guess yourself, but thankfully it was a false alarm and people being on vacation just went back to being on vacation, including us," says Moffett.
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