Hawaii Has an Emergency Plan to Prepare for a North Korea Missile Attack

Jul 21, 2017

Hawaii is launching a plan to prepare residents in case North Korea fires an intercontinental missile at the island state.

The educational campaign, set to be unveiled Friday, aims to inform residents and visitors on what to do if North Korea strikes, according to Hawaii News Now. Earlier this month, U.S. officials said North Korea tested an ICBM that American authorities believe could travel up to 4,000 miles, just outside of Hawaii's reach and fully within range of Alaska.

“We do not want to cause any undue stress for the public," Vern T. Miyagi, Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency administrator, said in a statement, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. "But there is clear evidence that [North Korea] is trying to develop ballistic missiles that could conceivably one day reach our state. Therefore, we cannot wait to begin our public information campaign to ensure that Hawaii residents will know what to do if such an event occurs."

The plan will not include the duck-and-cover drills associated with the Cold War, the paper reported, but students will be required to practice evacuation drills similar to "active shooter" situations. Additionally, public service announcements will be broadcast, saying “get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned."

Hawaii's tourism industry is reportedly not pleased with the precautionary measures.

“Everyone’s safety in Hawaii is always our top priority," Charlene Chan, director of communications for the Hawaii Tourism Authority, said in a statement to the Star-Advertiser. "However, we also know from speaking to our tourism industry partners that if reports are misinterpreted about the state’s need to prepare for an attack, this could lead to travelers and groups staying away from Hawaii.

“The effect of such a downturn would ultimately be felt by residents who rely on tourism’s success for their livelihood,” she added, saying the threat of a North Korean missile attack “is a very remote possibility at this time.”

Based off current projections, Chan is correct. Hawaii's farthest west islands, Niihau and Kauai, are roughly 4,400 miles away from North Korea, putting them about 400 miles outside of the country's maximum target distance. The state's capital, Honolulu, and larger islands are even farther away.

But officials from the state — which was surprise-attacked by Japan at the military base of Pearl Harbor, catapulting the U.S. into World War II — say they aren't taking any chances.

“If you were to ask me what is the status of North Korea, and is [a missile attack] a high probability, no, it’s a low probability,” Miyagi told the Star-Advertiser in April as Hawaii's House of Representatives moved to approve a resolution reinforcing fallout shelters and backup container shipping ports. “But then, so, we have to keep a lookout for that [threat]. That’s why we’re talking about updating the plan. It’s an awakening."

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