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False alarm emergency alert in Hawaii triggers concerns in Washington State

People in Hawaii woke up in a panic Saturday morning after an emergency alert was sent to their phones warning of a nuclear strike. It tells them to seek shelter immediately and "This is not a drill." They later learned it was a false alarm. That panic and alarm reached all that way to Washington state.

People in Hawaii woke up in a panic Saturday morning after an emergency alert was sent to their phones warning of a nuclear strike. It tolds them to seek shelter immediately and "This is not a drill." They later learned it was a false alarm. That panic and alarm reached all that way to Washington state.

“My heart definitely stopped for a few minutes,” said Eilene Celis after she got a message from her mother.

“It's terrible to think about,” said Leia Kaluna, an employee at Kona Kitchen in the Maple Leaf neighborhood in Seattle. Her family lives in Hawaii.

“The fact that it was a false alarm was very concerning,” said K.C. Lee, another Kona Kitchen employee.

Lee says her father was at work when he got word about the emergency text and the following message more than 30 minutes later that it was a false alarm. She talked to him on the phone Saturday.

“Normally they have an alarm that goes off in Hawaii so the whole island knows.” said Lee. “And that didn’t go off. So they didn’t know it wasn’t false alarm or serious.”

Tess Day of Seattle was in Hawaii visiting her brother and sister when she got the emergency text alert.

“I grabbed some blankets. I grabbed some food. I filled the bathtub. I called my sister,” said Day.

She said her mom and husband called from the mainland telling her to stay calm. When she later learned it was all a big mistake, she said, “We're all kind of shaking and in disbelief….that adrenaline that goes through your blood for 30 minutes thinking you might be blown up by a missile.”

Back at Kona Kitchen, lots of people are shaking their heads. Others are breathing a big sigh of relief.

“I'm glad they cleared it up and everyone is OK. And nothing serious happened,” said Lee.

Washington Emergency Management said the threat of a nuclear attack in Washington state is very low. But, it says we still have concerns about floods and fires and earthquakes. The agency says this is a good opportunity for people look at their own personal preparedness.

A Emergency Management spokeswoman said Washington state does not have precanned (emergency text) messages for things like nuclear attacks. However, the agency says it will closely review what happened in Hawaii and will look at its own system to make sure it's more secure.

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