People in Hawaii react to false missile alert

(WFLA) – News Channel 8 spoke to people in Hawaii who received the false ballistic missile alert at 8:07 am. Saturday.

How did they handle it?

We learned they took the warning seriously, reacting in an effort to save their lives.

“We were just kind of going about our morning and then the next thing I know all, of our phones started going off,” said Jennifer Hill, a former morning meteorologist at News Channel 8. She now lives in Hawaii with her family.

The alert hit her phone. It read, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

We asked her what was running through her mind.

“A lot of things I probably should not say on the air,” admits Hill. “It would be ‘beep beep beep beep.’”

Hill has been living in Hawaii with her husband and her son for nearly four years.

“It was really scary and I looked at my son and said, ‘you are too young for this,’” she told us. Her son is only 12-years-old.

She admits she was stunned by the alert.

“Everyone said, ‘What? What?’ You just cannot process it so you just say, ‘What?’ I ran downstairs, yelling for my husband and we just said, ‘Well, what do we do?’ and we kind of went into hurricane mode.”

Hill had plans to move her family into an interior bathroom.

She also called her mom to tell her, “I love you.”

“You cannot wrap your mind around it because it is not something you ever want to happen or can even fathom,” said Hill.

Josephine Schaaf is a realtor in Tampa and in Hawaii. She is in Hawaii now. She told us she was alone inside her condo when she got the alert.

“I am on the 32nd floor of a building, a condo, and I look down and I see all of these cars pulling over,” said Schaaf. “And I am like, ‘What is going on?’”

The people in the cars were also receiving the alarming message. Schaaf’s son, who is also in Hawaii, called her and begged her to take shelter.

“I just took my husband’s pills and ran downstairs. The lobby was full of people and it was so quiet. No one was saying anything. It was weird,” said Schaaf.

The second alert arrived at 8:45 a.m.

It reached cell phones 38 minutes after the first alert.

It read, “There is no missile threat or danger to the state of Hawaii. Repeat. False alarm.”

“When I realized it was false, I was relieved and then I was like, ‘how did this happen?’” said Hill.

The false notification is being blamed on human error.

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