STORIES FOR THE GRANDKIDS
Rep. DeLena Johnson of Palmer and her husband Steve were finishing a six-day cruise of the Hawaiian Islands when, while still aboard their ship in Pearl Harbor, Johnson received a text message:
“Emergency Alert. BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
“I thought maybe being in Pearl Harbor was not the best place to be because good things don’t happen to ships in this harbor,” she said today by phone. Johnson represents the Palmer area, District 11. She also served as mayor of the City of Palmer.
Eventually, they were allowed to disembark, and joined what looked like a thousand other passengers in the terminal. Police were at the doors and they were not being allowed to leave the terminal.
Johnson called a friend of hers who serves in the Hawaii Legislature and asked him if the alarm was real. Yes, he said, and he and his children were in the bathtub in the middle of their house, the safest place they could find.
A fellow ship passenger said she received the same alert and also a notification that her flight home had been cancelled.
“People had no idea what was going on. There was a little bit of panic,” Johnson said. The entire scare lasted about 40 minutes before another message came through, saying the alert was a false alarm.
By then, Johnson was recalling that when she made the reservation to take the cruise, she had joked with Norwegian Cruise Lines about North Korea’s missile threat. But she never thought she’d be in the middle of what seemed like a credible warning.
The two were taking it easy in Honolulu today before heading back to Anchorage, and then to Juneau, where the Alaska Legislature will gavel in on Tuesday for the 90-day session.
Hawaii emergency officials confirmed that the alert went out when a state emergency worker pushed the wrong button. The mistake happened during a shift change when employees were going over their checklists.