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We thought the world was ending: how locals reacted to Hawaii’s missile alert | Thirty Eight Minutes

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Published 9 months ago

A snapshot into a brief moment in time when paradise was lost. A diverse set of characters re-enact and reflect on the spur of the moment decisions they made during Hawaii’s 2018 false missile alert. #CBCShortDocs #ThirtyEightMinutes

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On Saturday, January 13, 2018, at 8:07 a.m. Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time, the following Emergency Alert was issued over cellphone, radio and TV networks across Hawaii:

BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII.
SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

As disbelief turned to panic, and confusion to action, thousands of citizens and tourists tried to make sense of the situation—scrambling to safe havens, reaching out to loved ones and, as local businessman and father Noah dramatically describes it, “waiting for something to happen . . . waiting for an explosion.”

38 Minutes revisits that excruciatingly long and terrifying pause through the dramatic, poetic, and sometimes humorous stories of Honolulu locals—some of whom reenact key moments—as well as riveting cellphone clips of reactions shot during the alert.

While it turned out to be a false alarm — human error, not a hoax — the decisions and revelations of the witnesses we encounter in Thirty Eight Minutes make it feel like a sun-dappled drill for the apocalypse, complete with a ukulele soundtrack.

“I didn’t feel any safer because it wasn’t true,” says Alexcia, who spent those 38 minutes with Bella, her dog. “We’re not as safe as we think we are.”

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