For the first time in decades, residents of Honolulu heard a terrifying sound: The warning siren of an incoming missile.
With the threat from North Korea increasing, government officials have revived the Cold-War era warning system.
Hawaii emergency management officials tested the wailing siren sound for a full minute on Friday. It’s a different sound from the steady alert that Hawaii residents are used to hearing to warn of natural disasters like tsunamis.
Despite the shocking sound, Fox News is reporting that there was little reaction from people on Waikiki Beach, where it sounded like a distant siren.
“We believe that it is imperative that we be prepared for every disaster, and in today’s world, that includes a nuclear attack,” Gov. David Ige said this week, adding that the possibility of a strike is remote.
The new test will ensure the public will know what to do in case of an imminent missile attack. Although it’s unclear how a wailing sound will provide advice, given residents will only likely have less than 20 minutes warning if there is a nuclear strike by North Korea.
Vern Miyagi, administrator for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said the state delayed the test for a month to let people know it would be happening. Hawaii turned to public service announcements on TV and radio, town hall meetings, information on agency websites and media stories.
The test comes right after North Korea fired a powerful intercontinental ballistic missile it calls the Hwasong-15, capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, experts say. The weapon would have a range of at least 8,100 miles – easily reaching Hawaii and most of the rest of the United States.
Hawaii is one of the closest states to North Korea, and its large military presence could make it more of a target. The island of Oahu is home to U.S. Pacific Command, the military’s headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region. It also hosts dozens of Navy ships at Pearl Harbor and is a key base for the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps.
Miyagi said that a nuclear strike on Hawaii would result in thousands of deaths, thermal radiation, destruction of critical infrastructure, massive fires and other devastation.
The tests will continue every month, on the first business day. If residents hear a siren, they are instructed to get indoors and await further instructions.
Unfortunately, Hawaii no longer has any nuclear shelters. When the Cold War ended, funding for maintaining them ran out as the threat of attack ended, emergency officials said.
Lorraine Godoy, 75, who grew up hearing air raid sirens on the Big Island, said the tests are a “reminder that this is not a safe world anymore. Even here, in Hawaii, it’s not safe.”
Tourism officials insist that visitors “should not be alarmed by the testing.” But it’s unclear how this will help the island state’s fragile tourism industry. It certainly can’t help.
What do you think? Should they start building bunkers in Hawaii or will President Donald Trump “take care” of North Korea before it comes to that? Sound off below!