Early Saturday morning, the state of Hawaii woke up to a disturbing emergency alert on their phones.
"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," it read. It may not have been a drill, but it certainly wasn’t accurate. The alert was later blamed on a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee pressing the wrong button.
Adrienne Robillard, her husband and their two children were visiting family in Maui for the weekend. They were just waking up, getting ready for the day in their hotel room when the alert came in.
She recounted the day in an interview with Oxygen.com.
“I said to my husband, ‘close the sliding door and the blackout drapes’ and said to our kids, ‘everybody go in the bathroom.’”
She said her 7-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter asked what was going on.
“I didn’t have the answer, exactly. We tried to stay calm,” she said. “Our son was very upset. Our daughter was very quiet.”
Because their hotel room bathroom was close to a stairwell, Robillard and her family could hear people exiting the hotel.
“There was an announcement over the hotel PA system that there was an emergency alert and that people had to evacuate the building but we knew that if this was what it was then we don’t want to be outside.”
All around the state, panic ensued. According to the Washington Post, many families thought they had only minutes left to live. Robillard called the situation eerie. She and her husband desperately searched for information to backup the warning.
“My husband was on his phone looking for news information. The hotel TV was really close to the bathroom so my husband was out there and he did find a basketball game with the scrolling information on top with the same message, ‘this is not a drill.’”
As her mind shifted into survival mode, Robillard recalled what was going through her head.
“I was thinking, ‘what food do we even have in this hotel room? Some leftovers. Some crackers. The hotel had given us a welcome box of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts that we had almost entirely eaten at that time and I thought that we should have waited on those! I was thinking about our family here on Awahoo. What will really be the effects if this happens? Will the military be able to intercept this?”
Having just put on a dress, Robillard questioned if she should change into pants.
“Because, are we going to be trying to get into a cave somewhere? Going from vacation mode into survival tactical mode of being as smart and safe as possible. It seemed unreal, like a movie. [...] I really just wanted it to not be real.”
Despite the racing thoughts going on in Robillard’s head, she and her husband remained strong for their children.
“We tried to keep that calm facade for our kids,” she told Oxygen.com.
According to CNN, a second emergency alert was sent to phones in Hawaii a whopping 38 minutes later, stating that it was all a false alarm. Robillard learned that it was not a real attack a little before that, from her brother in Canada. He called her to let her know that the state representative tweeted out that it was a false alarm.
“It felt great,” Robillard recalled. “We were so relieved. I think everybody was very grateful for peace.”
Robillard and her husband celebrated with some Mai Tais. She and her family live in Oahu, Hawaii. She is the vocalist and guitarist for the indie band “Citizens Here and Abroad.”
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