One Fulton family’s vacation escape from the Central New York snow turned into a short-lived nightmare when they got an alert on their phone.

Like all those with smart phones in Hawaii, the Bellinger family received an alert that read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” 

The message, which turned out to be a false alarm, sent residents and tourists alike into a panic lasting nearly 40 minutes– which is how long it took for a corrective alert to send out.

The Ballinger family spoke with NewsChannel 9 about the ordeal– they were at Walmart at the time.

“We kind of stood there in shock, for 45 minutes. They kicked everybody out of Walmart and locked the doors,” said Phyllis Ballinger. “In a restaurant they told us they had everyone go in a cooler at some of the hotels they said they had ’em all go down in the basement and we’re all locked out of Walmart not knowing where we should go.”

“But the first thing we did, we all texted our kids to tell them we love them because we really felt like it was real,” Ballinger said. 

Click the player to hear them describe the event in full detail.