False missile alert anniversary shows changes made, more needs to be done


It was a day Hawaii and the nation will never forget. One year ago this day, the false missile alert exposed our fragile system. Always Investigating has learned that the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency is no longer practicing missile drills. Some want the military to take over, but that’s still pending. So if a real missile is coming, HI-EMA will be sending that alert.

“Hawaii only went through 38 minutes of a near-death experience but we should never never do that again,” said State Representative Gene Ward. 

One year later and officials have made drastic changes.

“We’ve made it possible to regardless of what the message is to say hey ‘all clear’ or there was a mistake in the original message. We know how to do that now, we practiced at it, so there wouldn’t be a delay in trying to figure out how to say whoops,” said HI-EMA Administrator Tom Travis. 

There are issues still being addressed like some cell phones not getting alerts. Travis says it’s not under his purview but explains there’s been national testing. The result shows we still have significant problems. 

“Cell phones are very immediate but not necessarily a certain way of informing the public. So we need to match it with others that’s why sirens are important, emergency broadcast is important, and we’re confident we can get the word out to the vast majority,” said Travis. 

Meanwhile, state legislators who convene Wednesday will have to wait longer for HI-EMA’s report on exactly what happened. 

“We don’t know what happened to the person. Why he was on his computer. We don’t know what software has changed, so it’s an uncertainty,” said Rep. Ward. 

As for the so-called “button pusher” who received death threats, his attorney Michael Green says they never filed a potential lawsuit that dealt with defamation. 

“He wanted people to know his side of the story, and now it looks to me like he is settled in where he is and he doesn’t want to revisit this thing publicly,” said Green. 

Here’s one change that never happened: there was a House Bill that prohibits businesses from denying shelter to any person when an emergency alert says seek shelter. However, that never became law. 

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