The Crain family Christmas trip to Hawaii had been a fun and relaxing vacation.
Then, on their last day there, the alert came:
“Incoming Ballistic Missile To Hawaii. Take Immediate Precautions. This Is Not A Drill ***”
The family was getting up and around when the notice hit their phones.
“As you can imagine this brought us all out of our rooms and into the kitchen,” said Pam Crain, of Arkansas City. “Is this for real?”
Pam was there with her husband, Kent Crain, two sons, Christopher and Carson, daughter Courtney Crain Sendall, and son-in-law, Jeremy Sendall.
A few years ago, the family decided to forego the traditional Christmas gift exchange and plan a January trip together. This year it was a week stay on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kona side.
Pam said the front desk of their hotel was just as confused and didn’t know of any place they should go.
“So we did like any other Kansan would do in the threat of a tornado,” Pam said. “We went out on the balcony to watch it.”
Everyone except mom, who decided to keep making pancakes. “I was going to make sure everyone died on a full stomach,” she quipped.
It wasn’t until after they learned it was a false alarm — 40 minutes after the alert — that Pam said her nerves kicked in, and the “what ifs” came to mind.
That day — Jan. 13, a Saturday — was their last day in Hawaii, so the family proceeded as planned and went downtown for lunch, then to the beach, ate a late dinner and flew home.
The alert hadn’t created too much of a stir in their neck of the Island, so the family was initially unaware of the magnitude of the incident. The Hawaii Emergency Management Employee who sent out the alert was later fired.
“It wasn’t until we watched the news coverage that we found out of the sheer panic of most of the state of Hawaii,” Pam said.
The family’s faith was lived out during the experience.
“We knew that if (a bombing) did occur, we serve a faithful God and he would be present with us,” Pam said.
Pam related their unusual experience in recent days to the CourierTraveler.
Looking back, Pam, who is director of the Arkansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she realizes that something terrible could happen — bombs, missiles, shootings.
“I know that I have to live each day to the fullest and love those around me deeply, as we are not promised tomorrow.”