A false alarm warning people to seek shelter because of an incoming ballistic missile sent Hawaii into a panic Saturday.
Amy Allsop, a longtime Boisean who recently moved to California, was in a Maui hotel at the time.
"We were still asleep,” Allsop said. “It was early morning and [I] was awakened by a text actually, an emergency text, that said, ‘ballistic missile inbound Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.’"
The alert was written in all capital letters and sent to people’s cellphones.
It set off a full-blown panic in Hawaii. Allsop said it wasn't chaotic at her hotel, but there was a lot of confusion.
"Do you wait? Do you not wait? What do you do,” she said. "A lot of people in the hotel, they were running outside in the corridors, but I just stayed put until they said 'Oops. Sorry.’'"
More than 30 minutes after the alert went out, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency put out a tweet saying there was no incoming missile.
The city and county of Honolulu and the U.S Pacific command also put out statements calling the warning an "error."
"We investigated and as soon as we became aware that it was an error we took action to send the notification that it was a false alarm,” said Hawaii Governor David Ige. “This should not have happened."
"First is was 'Oh thank god,”' Allsop said. “Then after that it was, ‘How does a mistake like that happen?’ Because you know you've got a lot of people that are looking through this and where how is that even possible that this could happen?"
State officials said the problem happened when an employee with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency pushed the wrong button during a shift change.
"This is regrettable,” said Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi. “It won't happen again because the criticality of the time in this kind of event and the credibility of this alarm going off is critical for us saving lives. So we'll take action to make sure this doesn't happen again."
A lot of questions still surround the situation, but Allsop said there's something to learn from this.
"Familiarize yourself with what emergency procedures are wherever you’re at,” she said. “Don't wait until you need them, because you might not have a whole lot of time to do that. I think we just take it for granted that we'll always be safe and, really, it's kind of important to know what those are before the time comes."