Hawaii residents were shaken to their core over the weekend when they thought for what seemed like forever that they were going to be blown to bits in a nuclear attack.
Their cell phones sounded an alarm and it took 38 minutes for them to learn the truth: It was a false alarm.
But, this incident begs many questions. Why did it take so long to call off the statewide panic? How did an employee “push the wrong button”?
And then there’s this: What kind of preparation are other communities throughout the United States making in case of a real nuclear attack?
I’ve been thinking about that for the past day or so. What would happen if some enemy nation launched missiles aimed at a Department of Energy facility just northeast of Amarillo, Texas? You know about which I am mentioning here: Pantex, the sprawling compound in Carson County where this nation stores nuclear warheads. Many of us here refer to it light-heartedly as “The Bomb Factory.”
But it’s no joke. They do serious work out there.
What has Amarillo done to prepare for such an event?
I have lived in the Texas Panhandle for 23 years. So help me, I never have heard about a community emergency response system. Whatever it is, I don’t know where to go.
I grew up, of course, in the duck-and-cover era when the United States faced off against the Soviet Union, the other nuclear superpower. It was just Uncle Sam vs. the Big Ol’ Bear. Us vs. Them. Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys.
Today’s world is different. The USSR morphed back into Russia, but they’ve still got plenty of nukes. So do several other nations: India, Pakistan, South Africa, China, the UK, France … maybe Israel.
Oh, and North Korea!
The SNAFU in Hawaii has alerted all of us — or at least it should alert us — that the nuclear threat remains dire, perhaps even more so than it was during the Cold War.
Are we prepared? If someone out there has a plan, let’s hear it.
I’m all ears.