Serene morn­ing turned into ‘mass hys­te­ria’ on roads

The Buffalo News - - WASHINGTON NEWS -

that WE won the elec­tion!” the pres­i­dent tweeted Satur­day night.

In the hours af­ter the false alert, images and post­ings on so­cial me­dia showed peo­ple flood­ing area high­ways, crowd­ing into po­lice sta­tions and seek­ing shel­ter in con­crete struc­tures in­clud­ing park­ing garages. One un­con­firmed Twit­ter post­ing showed a res­i­dent low­er­ing chil­dren through a man­hole in a side­walk.

Court­ney McLaugh­lin, a wed­ding co­or­di­na­tor on the is­land of Kauai, said the alerts quickly turned a serene Satur­day morn­ing into “mass hys­te­ria” on the roads.

“My boyfriend was like, ‘Who do we sue for this?’ We don’t just need an apol­ogy; we need an ex­pla­na­tion. Some­one could have had a heart at­tack,” McLaugh­lin, 29, said. “It took some­thing that’s kind of in­com­pre­hen­si­ble and very quickly made it very per­sonal. All of a sud­den go­ing through your mind is, ‘Is this the end of my life?’ I called my mom, I called my dad, I called my brother and ba­si­cally said my good­byes.”

Toni Foshee, a res­i­dent of Palolo, said she and a friend vis­it­ing from Cal­i­for­nia re­acted as if a hur­ri­cane were com­ing – mak­ing sure her cat was in­doors, shut­ting win­dows and wait­ing.

“I think I was just kind of numb,” she said, adding that they learned the alert was false af­ter call­ing the po­lice.

“When I heard it, my stom­ach dropped,” said Roc Dias of Ka­neohe, on Oahu.

U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel sta­tioned in Hawaii de­scribed mo­ments of near des­per­a­tion.

One Navy sailor, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to talk to re­porters, said that he awoke Satur­day morn­ing in Honolulu to his girl­friend ask­ing him about the alert. Shocked, he turned on the tele­vi­sion look­ing for more in­for­ma­tion and called his mother in Mas­sachusetts to let her know what had hap­pened and say he loved her.

The sailor even­tu­ally called the Honolulu Po­lice De­part­ment about 10 min­utes later, and the dis­patcher told him that the alert was a mis­take.

“How can that hap­pen?” he said of the er­ror. “How can you al­low to that to hap­pen? There’s just an anger that goes with it. Even now, I’m shaken that it hap­pened. You go from think­ing you might die to this. It’s just a weird feel­ing.”

New York Times file photo

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