Living Through the Hawaii Missile Threat

January 13th, 2018 will be a day I’ll remember forever. It was the day I was told I had 10 minutes left to live.

At 8:08am, my phone blared with this Emergency Alert:

hawaii ballistic missile threat

My mom came running up the stairs screaming, but all I could do was stand there. Whether it was disbelief or complete shock, all I kept thinking was: Is this really happening? Is this real?

I immediately jumped to all the news sites, social media, TV, radios – but there was nothing. People were talking about it on Facebook, posting the same screenshots of that emergency alert. But all the news stations were silent.

We didn’t know what to do. If it was real or not. Where we should go. How long we had. Where it would hit. We didn’t know anything.

So I called my loved ones, told them I loved them. And then I waited. My family and I sat and waited, because that’s all we could do.

10 minutes passed.

20 minutes passed.

Our world was silent. The streets were empty. The sound of cars ceased. Even the sound of my breath seemed to disappear.

After 37 grueling minutes, I got another emergency alert:

hawaii ballistic missile threat

A false alarm. Sent to over a million people.

Over a million people were told they had 10 minutes before a ballistic missile would end life as they knew it. Over a million people hugged their loved ones tight and desperately made phone calls. Over a million people sought shelter in bath tubs, closets, parking garages, and storm drains. Over a million people lost their safety and sanity for 37 minutes because of one person’s careless mistake.

January 13th changed me forever. I now know what it’s like to be faced with a missile threat. I now know what it’s like to be told I have 10 minutes. I know what it’s like to feel completely and utterly helpless and scared beyond belief.

But possibly most importantly, I know what it’s like to wish for more time. I now know what it’s like to be faced with the threat of death, have an out-of-body experience and ask myself if I’d done everything in my life that I wanted to do.

While I was sitting and waiting for the inevitable, I asked myself these questions:

  • Am I happy with how I lived my life?
  • Did I accomplish enough?
  • Was I nice enough?
  • How will I be remembered?
  • If I live, how will I live my life differently?

Then when I received that second emergency alert stating that it was a false alarm, I thought about all those questions I asked myself. And I decided that from this point onward, I’ll live my life as though I only have 10 more minutes. I’ll let go of the built up anger and stress and worry and just live my life.

Because you know what? In those 10 minutes, I realized that nothing matters. The cars in the driveway, the clothes in my closet, the university degree on the wall didn’t matter when we were faced with a ballistic missile or nuclear bomb or whatever we thought was headed our way.

So for the rest of my life, I won’t live as though those things are the only things that matter.

After we were 100% certain it was a false alarm, and we were safe, we decided to make the most of the day and do things we would miss had that threat been real. We went out on a boat and spent the day swimming with whales and listening to happy, country music and soaking up the sunshine.

We lived. We spent that day living and enjoying living and being grateful for life. And that’s what I plan to do for the rest of my life.

18 responses to “Living Through the Hawaii Missile Threat”

  1. Wow, I can’t even imagine! This gave me goosebumps. So glad that it was just a false alarm and everyone was safe! Thank you so much for sharing.


  2. This brought tears to my eyes. I am not even going to begin trying to comprehend the terror and helplesness you must have felt. Praise the Lord you are here now, and thank you. Thank you for sharing this with us, because, in my case at least, even though I did not live through it, your experience makes me ask myself those very same questions. God is using what you went through to help us all; I wish you didn’t have to at all, but I am so happy you are here and that you took something from that experience that wasn’t bitterness and fury for a horrific, careless mistake. bless you.


    • Wow Sirena, thank you so much for your kind comment. I also believe God is using me in this situation! And although it was frightening at the time, I’m grateful for the experience because now I’m much more grateful for life and living. ❤️


  3. We were on the big island all week and there during that fake announcement. I’m very skeptical by nature, and I first googled it…nothing. my hubby and I were flying back home to California that afternoon and we just looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. We were on our way to breakfast (in Hilo), and the first diner closed because of the missile. How stupid. We went down the street to Kens Pancake house, sat down and ordered the “missile special.” The waitress almost fell over laughing. Most of the folks in the restaurant went about their business probably knowing there was nothing they could do except enjoy a last breakfast. Minutes later the second announcement came. Yes, life is short. If the end comes quickly then all the better. It’s in God’s hands anyway. I hope you are feeling better now.


    • Hi Terri, after the fact, I spoke with a lot of friends and family who are on island, and they all said pretty much the same thing you said. They didn’t know what to do, or they knew there was nothing they could do so they enjoyed life for the time they (thought) they had left. Some people I know got the alert and continued golfing or watering their plants or surfing – because if the threat were real, there would be no way they’d be able to get to a shelter and survive anyhow. It’s an interesting thought. I’m glad it was a false alarm and that we (and you and your husband!) were safe. ❤️


  4. That sounds like such a terrifying experience. All I could think while reading was if I’d have the courage to reach out to certain people, what I’d say, and where I could be that would be best for myself and my 3 animals in that situation. I am so sorry you faced such a terrifying false alarm, but I am so glad it was a false alarm. It sounds like it really made an impact on how you see your impact on the world. God bless you, and I hope you achieve it all. 🙂


    • Hi! Thank you so much. It was terrifying to call loved ones and say goodbye and “I love you,” not knowing if we’d speak with them again. And I only hope to never go through that again!

      But like I said, and you just said, it definitely made me step back and take a look at my life and be more aware that everything is temporary and it could all be taken away in a split second.


  5. This sounds like such a roller coaster of emotion. First terror and then frustration!
    I’m glad it was a false alarm, and hopefully in time it will become a good story. A good reminder to love on your people, because you never know!


  6. That is awful but also not surprising. Things happen all the time in today’s world 🌏 none the less that’s still a wake up 😴⏰call to how numb our society has become to everyday life and just how much we take for granted. Sometimes it’s just a way for that were chosen for circumstances that call for great 👍measures and beyond depths of the unimaginable to find us right where we need to be and the only way our eyes 👀would see. There is always something to be told in every story. I’m glad it had a happy ending 💯👌😍God 😇🙏👼bless


    • Thank you so much for your comment! I completely agree with you. We have become so disillusioned to everything. Life is life! It’s short and temporary and our days are not promised, and we need to be more grateful for things we have while we have them.


  7. After my mom and sister passed away within 11 hours apart right next to ea other at hospice, it was a HUGE wake up call for me. Then there was the song by Tim McGraw that kept playing over and over that reminds me til this day of just how short life is. “Live like you’re dieing.” It’s very true…we should live like everyday is our last….


  8. I never thought of the Emergency Alert as a “gift” until I read your post. Although it must have been frightening for those affected by it, to the extent it realigned their life priorities it was a blessing. Beautiful post. Mahalo!


    • It was terrifying, but seeing it as a gift and a lesson has been so liberating and healing for me. Now I live life with a much more grateful heart!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: