As tensions escalate between North Korea and the United States, Hawaii finds itself on the frontlines in preparing for a nuclear attack.
Whether or not North Korea has developed the capability of hitting the islands with a missile, state officials aren’t taking any chances.
Starting in December, Hawaii will be testing its “Attack Warning” siren for the first time since the Cold War. The state is adding the signal to its monthly “Attention Alert” test, which warns people of an incoming tsunami or hurricane.
While the wailing siren could be used to warn of a nuclear strike from North Korea, Vern Miyagi, administrator of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), said he thinks an attack is unlikely.
“If North Korea launches against us or our allies, the retaliation would be complete and they would defeat North Korea’s ambition to continue its regime. So if they did launch an attack against us, the regime would be probably end,” said Miyagi.
Nevertheless, HI-EMA is ramping up efforts to educate the state’s 1.4 million residents and also visitors on how to prepare for a nuclear attack.
“Hawaii is a likely target, ‘cause we’re in the Pacific, we’re closer in to North Korea than most of the continental United States,” Miyagi pointed out, “so it’s something we need to prepare for. As we track the news and we see the tests, both missile launches and nuclear tests, it’s the elephant in the room. We can’t ignore it.”
Echoes of Dec. 7, 1941
World War II veteran Ted Tsukiyama recalled hearing the air-raid warning sirens after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.