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The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The Hawaii missile false alarm showed me how helpless I was

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

There aren’t too many ways a surf trip in Hawaii can go wrong, aside from dangerous swells and nukes from North Korea.  

It was the last day of my trip, and I wasn’t even planning on surfing that day.  Actually, I hadn’t even gotten out of bed when I heard what I thought was an Amber alert.

I was in no mood to go looking for a grey Tacoma so I rolled back over and went to sleep.  

My phone had broken on the first day of the trip, and it wasn’t until a few minutes later that my friend ran into the bedroom asking what we should do.  

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For a moment, I thought he was saying we should go help this kidnapped child.  


Normally I wouldn’t have taken the message so seriously, especially after spending the week relaxing in Hawaii, however this happened to take place at a very tense time in our country’s relations with North Korea.  

The night before, I had gone on a Facebook rant about the whole situation, and now I was sitting smack dab in the middle of it.

It was a crazy feeling considering the fact that I didn’t personally do anything to piss off another country.

I think about this feeling everytime I see bombings in the news, and I’ve grown to learn that innocent lives are a valuable form of leverage to many people. When you’re in a country, domestic or foreign, you’re unofficially representing an entire government of ideas whether you like it or not.

I was ready to reason with whoever was trying to bomb me, but unfortunately that wasn’t an option.

I didn’t know what was about to happen, but I thought that there was likely something we could be doing about it.

We started yelling in the streets for someone to help us until eventually one of our neighbors was nice enough to open his door and yell, “go inside and call your loved ones!”

This made it real.

I borrowed a phone to call home, but there was nothing my family could say. I’ve never felt so helpless.  

I later saw videos of people crawling into manholes, but the thought to do that never even entered my brain. My friends and I were paralyzed by the situation. We just wanted to go home.

Then, a brutal 38 minutes later, we got another alert which said: “There is no missile threat or danger to the State of Hawaii. Repeat. False Alarm.”

Awesome, apparently somebody hit the wrong button, or at least that’s what we were told at the time.  

At this point I’ve heard a number of different explanations, and CNN reported in February that the person who sent the alert really thought there was a missile. According to a Russian news report, the U.S. government sent the alert to distract people from the fact that they were bombing Guam.  

I don’t know who to believe, but I hope that whoever was behind it had a good reason because they ruined the last day of my vacation.  

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