8:07 a.m.

A Personal Account of Hawaii’s False Missile Alert

Lloyd Nebres, February 20, 2018

8:07 a.m., Monday, MLK, Jr. Day

I’m back where I was exactly 48 hours ago when our cellphones screeched that warning… and variants of hell began breaking loose all over the place—beginning in one’s suddenly and strangely clear mind, focused in just that particular way perhaps centered in the amygdala, by a burst of adrenaline—unusual fissures opening up in the interstices of space and time.

It wasn’t for myself that I was instantly fearful and and terrified. After about ten seconds that felt like an hour, staring at the notification, the words THIS IS NOT A DRILL both hyper-real and surreal I looked up and around and wondered why there weren’t any sirens going off outside. And the natural skeptic in me would have signaled a pause. But that’s not what happened

because my mind was rapidly working this way, all notions converging instantaneously:

… was not about to discount the absence of sirens to summarily dismiss the shocking reality of that alert … was sure that if any ballistic nuclear missile were to be sent this way, its target would be O’ahu—Honolulu—hence Maui would be well and safely away from the blast and fallout … hence sirens would likely be blaring there right now … and Pono’s house, in Kalihi—a few miles away from downtown Honolulu and the airport and Pearl Harbor—is very near the epicenter of a nuclear explosion in which everything and everyone is incinerated …

And that was when the vertigo hit, that sickening feeling of the ground falling away and nothing solid was under me any longer, the universe veering atilt in a way it had never done before. Just 10 seconds or so into the alert.

My terror and panic were not for myself but for my son, so far away from me and so near a locus of extinction. I had no choice but to reach for him at once, to hold him if only virtually and by voice, for those last precious moments of time. His phone rang once, twice, no answer, my mind silently screaming PICK UP PICK UP, PLEASE PICK UP. The third time it went straight to voicemail. The fourth, that familiar recording saying that the call could not be made as dialed. And as I looked around, everyone else on their phones, I knew that the network had been brought to its knees by the sudden spike of calls.

It being a Saturday, Pono had slept in and slept through the whole thing. He woke up about an hour and a half later and, seeing that I’d called several times, called me, to still find the jangled note in my voice, the quivering nature of it, doubtless hearing the trauma of the whole thing. His response was simple, elemental: glad to have slept through it, as he couldn’t imagine his own abject terror and despair had we had that ‘last’ conversation.

I was instantly conflicted: felt the same way he did, and yet… the torture of not having been able to connect immediately so palpable, still so visceral.

Doubtless, many here shared the same experience. It was uncanny and painful. Dreadful, but somehow life-changing in a way that will take some time to percolate through the subconscious.

Dreamlike, nightmarish.

I cannot wait to see my son again, to hold him in a way I never have before.

One. More. Time.

~ Lloyd Nebres originally posted his false missile alert experience on JamBios, a social platform that provides an easy framework for capturing memories.

Copyright © 1997-2018 All Rights Reserved. - - Privacy Notice - Front Page