Ballistic Missile Threat in Hawai`i: A Big Beautiful Mistake

On Saturday, January 13, 2018, I staggered out of bed, and the cats came running. I fed them, made the coffee. Outside, a beautiful blue sky held a few clouds over a slowly-waking neighborhood. The morning was a crisp 70 degrees. Well, this is Hawai‘i.

I pressed the button to start the coffee, and immediately, I heard a weird trill from Veronica’s phone. She glanced at the screen and said, “Incoming ballistic missile?”

I knew I had not heard that right.

My sister-in-law Charnan, a local emergency manager, called to tell us what to do. Within five minutes, cats in cages in the hallway, all windows and doors closed, we huddled under a blanket trying to access a news site on my laptop.

Most sites demanded I update FlashPlayer, which, under the circumstances, I declined to do. The rest had nothing to report. I wrote a quick e-mail to two good friends on the mainland. We were scared, but there was nothing else to do.

Sitting in the dark hallway of our single-walled house with cats and spouse, I realized how lucky I was, surrounded by loved ones on a beautiful Saturday morning. Coffee was actually brewing. The sun was shining. Birds were singing.

On any other day, we would’ve been in three different places, but there we were, sitting together under a cat-furred blanket with itchy noses, knowing that if anything actually struck, we were the gray ash of history. Still, we were lucky.

After we got the news the warning was a mistake, I got e-mail from my mainland friends. One wished us a beautiful moment today to counter the horrific one. Already working on that. The other wrote, “At work. Glad you have not been quick-fried to a crackly crunch.” (OMFG, RIHLOL.)

Me, too, man. Me, too.


Alice Hamilton