by: Beth Hillyer
(KHNL) - Rumors have been circulating throughout the state warning the public of a massive 9.0 earthquake! State Civil Defense is saying these rumors are "not true" and they created widespread panic. We got more than a hundred calls here in our newsroom while state civil defense fielded more than 300 calls.
You could hear the panic in their voices. They called from the Big Island, from the Leeward Coast of Oahu. All fearing a massive earthquake and tsunami. But if you stop and listen, there are no sirens, no emergency radio broadcast. No official warnings from State Civil Defense because it's all just a rumor.
Natalie at Civil Defense answers the phone as fast as she can "State Civil Defense this is Natalie may I help you? No ma'am it's not true. You can't predict an earthquake."
Calls have been flooding into police and fire stations and State Civil Defense.
Director Ed Teixiera says, "Yes it has frustrated us. Calls snowballed. We have fielded 300 calls by now in our emergency ops center. It is the kind of energy we don't need to waste. We would sure like to get to bottom of it who generated the rumor that anyone can predict an earthquake for tomorrow."
Natalie explains, "It's a vicious rumor someone is spreading tying to cause panic. Not true an earthquake cannot be predicted and a tsunami can't be generated without a earthquake.
There are five people answering the phones and they are not enough to quash the widespread panic.
Civil Defense Officials say if there was an actual emergency they would warn you through TV and radio broadcasts along with activating the warning sirens.
Teixiera sums it up, "The bottom line is you can't predict and earthquake and if you could we knew of one we certainly would tell everybody."
Since the "real" October 15th earthquake state and county civil defense authorities have held numerous meetings with media and news executives. They're developing more robust and sophisticated plans to warn people in the case of an earthquake, tsunami or other natural disaster.
Some Leeward residents sprang into action when they heard the earthquake rumor.
People were running into stores trying to get what they could.
From Waianae to Ewa Beach the gas stations were packed. This seems to be a knee jerk reaction from the October earthquake when lots of people found themselves without food, fuel and cash. Tonight people were picking up same things- water and ice.