Return of Cold War-era alarm has some Hawaii residents concerned about nuclear attack

Bruce Clarke/Stockbyte via Getty Images(HONOLULU) — News of a reinstatement of a nuclear alarm system in Hawaii amid tension with North Korea seems to have sent mixed signals among residents in Honolulu.

The island state is going to reinstate an alarm that will tell residents to “Get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned.”

The alarm, which hasn’t been in use since the Cold War, is going to be put back in service as of Dec. 1 as part of a ballistic missile preparedness program. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not directly threatened Hawaii, but missile test launches over Japan and increased tension between his country and the United States prompted Hawaii officials to address the issue of preparedness.

Christopher Joseph, 27, works in retail in Honolulu and said that the system is reassuring. “I know we can shoot missiles out of the air if it came to that but I’d like to be warned. It’s better to be safe than sorry,” Joseph said.

Joseph told ABC News that while he does not have specific shelter plans in place, he thinks he would “try and get away from the city and maybe on the other side of the mountains for protection.”

Neil Milner, a 76-year-old retiree, had a more pessimistic view of the soon-to-be-reinstated system.

“I can’t imagine this alarm is going to make any difference. There’s no place to go so warning us would be trivial. It would be instant gridlock with people trying to get somewhere,” Milner said.

“In theory having a shelter makes sense, but if a nuclear bomb would strike Oahu I don’t think it would really make a difference so I don’t have any plans to go anywhere in particular if there is a missile coming,” he said.

Jennifer Dovera said that the warning from Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) that people should have designated a place to go for shelter in case of an attack “makes this threat even more real. It’s something I’ll have to talk about with my family tonight.”

“This could affect my children’s well-being and way of life but I hope the system never needs to be used,” said Dovera, 32.

Travis Flazer, a 36-year-old facilities manager, said that he already has a hurricane preparedness kit “so I feel I’m as prepare as I need to be.”

“My plan, if the alarm were to sound, is to head to my condo and hunker down with the supplies I have,” Flazer said.

He said that the current state of world affairs in general is having an emotional impact, however.

“I’m exhausted with what’s going on in the world these days and especially North Korea but I’m glad we have a plan to handle a possible attack,” Flazer said.

One repeated concern was that the necessity for the renewed alarm could lend a new level of credibility to a possible threat.

“If there really is a need for this it’s very disconcerting,” said Dvorah Governale, a 36-year-old professional costumer. “This reminds me of bomb shelter drills during the Cold War when I lived on the mainland. The whole thing makes me very uneasy and consumes more of my thoughts than it should.”

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