Hawaii is the first U.S. state to begin making preparations for a possible nuclear strike by North Korea. One of Oahu’s residents is in disbelief. Mitsuko Heidtke is 82 years old, but when she was 10 years old, she lived in Hiroshima, Japan. Heidtke experienced firsthand the vast devastation and consequences of a nuclear bomb. She can’t imagine living through that chaos again.
The 82-year-old Hawaii resident remembered being on a train on August 6, 1945: “I saw the flash. I have never seen anything that bright. Then I saw the mushroom cloud,” Heidtke said. She got off the train and saw the most painful scenes of her life.
“It was so terrible. People were running away with their skin hanging from their bones and burned.” 70,000 people were killed by the initial blast of the atomic bomb that day.
Now, more than 70 years later, the people of Hawaii are preparing for an attack, even though U.S. officials are calling the chance remote. The state has been working on updating preparations for seven months, long before the present rhetoric became full of “fire and fury.”
“If North Korea uses an intercontinental ballistic missile, from launch to impact (in Hawaii) is approximately 20 minutes,” said Lt. Col. Charles Anthony, director of public affairs for the state’s Department of Defense.
“Pacific Command would take about fives minutes to characterize a launch, where the missile is going, which means the population would have about 15 minutes to take shelter,” said Vern Miyagi, administrator for Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency. “It’s not much time at all. But it is enough time to give yourself a chance to survive. We want people to simply have a plan in place just like they would for a hurricane, tsunami, or any other disaster.” Miyagi said.
Getting people to prepare for a nuclear attack is an uphill battle. Most people believe at least one of these falsehoods: 1). No need to prepare because everyone will be wiped out. 2). A nuclear attack will never happen.
The truth is that hundreds of thousands of people across the Hawaiian islands would survive the initial blast. The key is being prepared so that you will survive the nuclear fallout after the initial blast.
Miyagi said: “It is the nuclear fallout that could end up killing people after the initial impact unless people know what to do.” The message is simple: Take shelter immediately after a warning is issued. “You can’t take the time to call your wife, your kids, your husband to pick them up and try to find a shelter,” Miyagi said. “There is no time for that.”
Emergency management officials in Hawaii have given these directions to survive a nuclear fallout:
— Be aware of your surroundings and options.
— An underground concrete basement is ideal.
— If you’re in a car near buildings, get out and go to the middle of a concrete building away from windows and doors.
— If there are only residences, go to the interior
— If you are on the beach with no chance of getting to a structure, look for a cave.
“You should have 14 days’ worth of emergency supplies,” Miyagi said. Not everyone will need supplies for that long, but that will give time for the radiation to dissipate.
Preparation for an attack is certainly necessary. But in the midst of heated rhetoric from world leaders, we should listen to the voice of an 82-year-old woman from Hiroshima, Japan. Mitsuko Heidtke said, “This kind of bomb should never be used, never ever again.”