The emergency alert issued by Hawaii Civil Defense on Saturday sparked panic and confusion, both on the ground and on social media. It took the agency more than half an hour to send out a correction, while officials scrambled to apologize for the “human error” and assure people there was in fact no threat.
But for many those reassurances came much too late, as locals were already clamoring for shelter anywhere they could find it, including storm drains, bathtubs and basements.
Students running for shelter at University of Hawaii at Manoa were filmed by Joe Walker, who posted the footage on Twitter.
Meanwhile others rushed to contact their relatives to bid farewell in case the worst should happen. A resident of San Diego posted audio of a voicemail and pictures of text messages left by her mother and brothers at the height of the incident. Remaining calm throughout the voice message, the poster’s mother says: “We just got a notice saying that a missile, a threat was coming this way – “it’s not a drill. Take cover.” There’s really not a lot we can do. But if it’s real and we’re gone, I just want to say I love you.”
Others however seemed to resign themselves to their fate, like a father who left a goodbye message for his family while out on the golf course. His daughter, Alohi Gardner, posted the video, in which her father claims to have earned a par on his last hole in the aftermath of Saturday’s false alarm.