Governor took 15 minutes to announce missile alert was false

  • Gov. David Ige answers questions during a hearing Friday in Honolulu.

    Associated Press

  • Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi listens during a hearing in Honolulu, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. Lawmakers want to learn the circumstances of an emergency alert mistakenly sent over the weekend that warned island residents and visitors of a ballistic missile attack. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher).

  • Associated Press

    State Rep. Kaniela Ing asks questions of state emergency management officials during a hearing Friday in Honolulu.

HONOLULU — The Hawaii National Guard’s top commander said Friday he told Gov. David Ige that a missile alert was a false alarm two minutes after it went out statewide. But the governor didn’t tell the public until 15 minutes later.

Maj. Gen. Arthur “Joe” Logan told state lawmakers at a hearing that he called the governor at 8:09 a.m. Saturday after speaking to a supervisor at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, whose employee accidentally sent the alert.


Ige spokeswoman Cindy McMillan said the governor had to track her down to prepare a message for the public. She said the governor’s communications team handles his social media.

Ige’s office relayed an Emergency Management Agency tweet about the false alarm at 8:24 a.m. Six minutes later, a notice went up on his Facebook page.

Rep. Kaniela Ing, who questioned Logan about the alert mishap, said he wanted to ask the governor himself about the events. But Ige had left the hearing by the time it was Ing’s turn to ask questions.

McMillan said Ige departed the hearing early because he had “various things to do.” In response to criticism from Ing and other lawmakers that Ige left prematurely, McMillan said: “He is the governor. He has other duties to attend to today.”

McMillan would not say what other obligations the governor had.

Lawmakers held their hearing nearly a week after a state employee caused widespread panic and confusion by mistakenly sending an emergency alert to mobile devices and TV and radio stations warning of an incoming missile strike.

A corrected alert was not sent to mobile devices for nearly 40 minutes because state workers had no prepared message for a false alarm.

Hawaii emergency workers immediately started calling city and county officials to tell them there was no threat. They posted social media messages about 13 minutes after the erroneous warning.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Logan’s deputy, told lawmakers the state is exploring changing the emergency management agency’s computer software so workers won’t have to select alerts from a drop-down menu. Last weekend’s mistake occurred when the employee selected an actual missile alert from the drop-down menu instead of a missile alert drill message. One possibility would be to use icons with color codes for the different alert options, Hara said.

A Federal Communications Commission official told the hearing not all cellphones in Hawaii received the alert in part because cellphone carriers may choose not to participate in the nation’s Wireless Emergency Alert system.

FCC attorney and adviser James Wiley said some carriers may also offer the service only to some geographic areas and only to some mobile devices. Individuals may also opt out of receiving alerts.

Wiley was visiting Hawaii to investigate why the mistaken alert was sent.

On Thursday, the Hawaii state Department of Defense said it took about 10 minutes for an employee to think of sending a new alert canceling the alert.

Lt. Col. Charles Anthony said that amid the chaos, a telecommunications staffer presented his idea to create a new alert on the same platform that sent out the mistake. The agency checked with federal officials, composed and uploaded the alert to their online system and eventually issued the retraction.

The initial warning was sent at 8:07 a.m. and the correction reached cellphones at 8:45.

It is estimated that a missile would take about 20 minutes to reach Hawaii from North Korea. Officials say it would take about five minutes for the military to analyze the launch trajectory and notify the state, leaving only 12 to 15 minutes of warning time before impact.

Hawaii Island lawmakers who participated in the hearing on the false alert were Rep. Richard Creagan, Sen. Russell Ruderman, Sen. Lorraine Inouye, Rep. Richard Onishi and Rep. Nicole Lowen.


Ruderman, who owns natural food stores on the island, said the state should give businesses guidance on what to do during a real alert since people were running to stores, including his locations, to seek shelter.

Reporter Tom Callis contributed to this report.

  1. CW January 20, 2018 5:39 am

    More proof this incompetent fool should not be in office. Ige can’t make decisions on a timely basis. He is a procrastinator whether the issue is TMT or notifying the public of a false alarm. He should not be governor.

  2. Greg Rush January 20, 2018 7:06 am

    Buh Bye

  3. Poi January 20, 2018 8:00 am

    Retire immediately. Hey, who is our Lt Governor anyway? Can you name him without resort to Google? No cheating, now. Hint: has the “right” kind of name. “Governor Tsutsui”!! Doesn’t roll off the tongue as well though. Oh well, I guess we’re stuck with the other “right name” guy, even if he is slow-brained.

  4. Steve Dearing January 20, 2018 8:33 am

    The foolish demo rats that elected this dip stick are just as responsible for Ige’s failed administration as Ige. Now the fools will vote for Ige’s Chinese boy Chin to continue the demo rat’s destruction of families, businesses, jobs and the safety and well being of the residents of Hawaii. Can the jackasses!

  5. lazerhaze January 21, 2018 5:59 am

    Ige *MUST RESIGN*. No “retirement”, no “severance” pay. Not a penny more of tax payer $$$ for this idiot.

  6. thebamboo January 21, 2018 7:22 am

    Other duties to attend to.
    Other than the severe mistake that the State of Hawaii just endured.
    I got a Perry Como CD in my office I’ve been dying to hear.

  7. Waimea Man January 21, 2018 1:21 pm

    I like that he blames his spokeswoman. You’re the Governor!!

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