Gov. Snyder: Unlikely Michigan would make same mistake as Hawaii

DETROIT - Saturday's frightening but false alert to Hawaiians about a ballistic missile headed to the island paradise is unlikely to be repeated in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday.

Speaking to reporters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Snyder said nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to the safety of Michiganders.

"But we try to be prepared. We've gone through a number of emergency exercises from tornadoes to forest fires to floods to cybersecurity threats," he said.

But a possible missile strike from a hostile country? Snyder didn't get into specifics, although he said that the state's emergency management department, which handles man-made and natural crises that require immediate public alerts, is "state of the art."

"I would encourage any time people would like to see our emergency management system that we have a state-of-the-art facility with great people in it in the Lansing area that’s first-rate," he said.

No one was available at the state's Emergency Management and Homeland Security Department because of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. But the department has been activated for  events from the Flint water crisis to a major sewer line break in Fraser to severe flooding across the state in 2017.

The chaos in Hawaii began at 8:05 a.m. Saturday during a routine internal test involving the state's Emergency Alert System. But a 10-year employee of the department hit the live-alert button by mistake, and at 8:07 a.m. this alert was erroneously  sent to cell phones across the state: "Missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."

The employee has been temporarily reassigned, pending an investigation into the incident, to a job that "does not provide access to the warning system," the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said in a statement.

As for his last auto show as the state's top executive, Snyder, who can't run for re-election this year because of term limits, said, "It's been a great honor. I was thinking back to 2011 (his first year in office) and the difference between now and then is dramatic. We were sort of down on ourselves too much back then. But let’s be louder and prouder as Michiganders."

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