Hawaii Missile Alert Threatened Des Moines Couple’s 35th Wedding Anniversary

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowans might call Hawaii the perfect getaway.  "One, it was to get away from cold weather, and the best part was it was our 35th wedding anniversary," said Tom Lloyd.

Tom and Janet Lloyd spent 12 days in paradise.

"We did whale watching and snorkeling. The whales were so active it was like spring break in Maui for them."

Time began to fly by until Saturday, when the two were traveling on an island tour of the Kona Coffee District of Hawaii. Tom said, "Everybody's phone started going off and somebody asked, 'what is that?'"

At that moment, everyone was receiving a ballistic missile threat alert just after noon Hawaii time.

"'Missile threat, this is not a drill,' I was like, 'oh my goodness,'" said Tom.

Tourists weren't the only ones confused about what to do next.

"Well where do we go, what should we do? They had no clue what to do. Now, a tsunami they were prepared for, but something like this they had no idea what to do."

The couple, along with the tour group, found shelter in the lower level of a nearby coffee shop and tried to stay calm.  Tom said, "It's kind of like the ducks going crazy, under the water. I think everybody, their hearts were beating a million miles a minute."

Quickly, they informed family members.

"We were getting texts out as best we could because the phone lines were jammed.  There was no calling off the island," said Tom.

Relief set in when another alert came down 38 minutes later; the original notification was a false alarm.

"It seemed like a day, it was the longest 38 minutes," said Tom.

Safe and sound, they resumed the tour and Janet said they had a few laughs the next day.

"The newspaper the next day said 'OOPS' and it was in big letters, like six inches tall."

For some, it may have put a damper on a special trip, but not these two. Tom said, "If it is your time to go, there are a lot worse places."

Tom and Janet credit their positive attitude to a longtime membership within local Optimist International groups in the metro. "Having a positive attitude, looking at the bright side and how they could come out vs. the opposite. We are looking at the best ways to make things happen," said Tom.

The Lloyds received a letter from the Governor of Hawaii, apologizing for the false alarm and for the fear it may have caused.