The first thing Hawaii resident Chloe Williams did when she heard about the ballistic missile alert was call her parents in Ohio.
“I just knew that I needed to start saying goodbye,” Williams said. “I knew that I didn't want to die alone. And just immediately everything came to me at once. My whole life just kind of flashed before my eyes as they always tell you.”
She said she told her parents she loved them, and she asked them to tell her husband that she loved him.
“That's all I could say, just the words ‘I love you’ just kept coming out,” she said.
Williams -- and the whole state of Hawaii -- had no idea the alert was a mistake.
A second emergency alert was sent to phones in Hawaii 38 minutes after the initial message confirming the false alarm.
Fellow military wife Julie Cunningham also saw the alert on her phone. She said she immediately started gathering food.
“I immediately threw bread, cereal into a bag,” Cunningham said.
Carol Ann Chambers said she didn’t get the alert on her phone at all. She only knew about the threat because Williams had called her.
Chambers said she thought about going to a shelter on the military base, but there wasn’t time to get there.
“There was traffic jams,” Chambers said. “The only thing we could've done was just kind of stay where we were.”
Officials in Hawaii have maintained the alert was a mistake, but the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) told KMGH that the message was "possibly a hack" or a “very sick joke.” NORAD added it was going to look into “how that alert came about or how it stated.”
Williams said 20 minutes passed before she got word the alert was a mistake.
“Why did they wait 20 minutes to tell us? That was the longest 20 minutes, at least in my perspective, of my life,” Williams said.