False alarm sends locals with family, friends in Hawaii into panic

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - Panic rained down on Hawaii as the public-alert system warned of an incoming missile.

An employee sent out the false alarm. 

Locals with ties to Hawaii were terrified. 

Gary Kameehonua is originally from Hawaii, now living in Las Vegas. He was on the island when he received the false ballistic missile alert.

"If there's something like that that's going to happen we don't have much time," he said. "The biggest thing that we had to do was close up the house... The immediate shelters are in town. And from here that would take 20 minutes to 30 minutes just to get to the closest shelters."

Locals who have family in Hawaii were scrambling to reach their loved ones.

"They said their goodbyes to each other, unfortunately. 'If I don't happen to see you, goodbye, I love you,'" says Amie Belmonte. 

Her husband, Leo Belmonte says they thought their worst nightmare came true there was a 30-minute gap before they finally found out that it was a false alarm.

Many are asking if a similar error could happen in Las Vegas.

Nevada's Emergency Alert System Chair, Adrienne Abbott, told 13 action news we've seen errors like it before - but never this big.

They rigorously train officials to send timely and accurate emergency information.

"I talk to officials all the time who are leery of being involved in a test because they don't want to make a mistake," says Abbott.

For the people of Hawaii and their families, the false alarm is an awakening.

"Perhaps maybe our government needs to prepare for it right now or even all of us," says Amie.

13 Action News tried to get information from local officials on what to do and where to go if a similar threat happens here.

They've deferred to state or federal officials and Homeland Security for answers since it's a matter of national security.

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