Imagine, if you can, that in the fog of your first waking moments, you see an alert letting you know that a missile is heading your way.
That was the reality Saturday morning for thousands living on the Hawaiian Islands, like Lancaster native Maria Gaca.
“Usually it's like an emergency weather alert. So I woke up and looked at it and it was said it was a missile threat and I thought I was still sleeping,” said Gaca. “I popped right out of bed."
Maj. Patrick Miller, who was injured during the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, is from Allegany and is currently stationed in Hawaii.
Miller said he got the alert while at home with his family.
"I mean there's not a whole lot you can do at that point other than just kind of shelter in place and get low. It's hard because there are no basements in Hawaii,” said Miller.
And then, after 40 excruciating minutes, Miller and many others got another message. This one let them know that the missile threat was actually a false alarm.
"After the initial relief it turns to annoyance and almost anger like how can they let that happen. My family is okay, we're alright but some folks I’m sure really, really panicked," said Miller.
According to the state's governor, David Ige, this all came down to human error at the Emergency Management Agency.
"It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift that they go through to make sure that the system is working and an employee pushed the wrong button,” said Ige.
Here’s what agency leaders say they're doing about it:
"We'll take action to prevent this from ever happening ever again, by having more than one person there to do this, to make this decision and work on equipment changes,” said Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern T. Miyagi.
This incident comes just weeks after the state began testing its nuclear siren system for the first time since the cold war.
And in the wake of rising tensions with North Korea, one Hawaiian lawmaker says it should also serve as a wakeup call.
"The people of Hawaii just got a taste of the stark reality of what we face here with a potential nuclear strike on Hawaii,” said U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard.