Message system vendor says human error led to false alert

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A contractor for the state says one of its employees incorrectly entered information into a federal public alert system, leading to an emergency alert mistakenly being sent to some wireless phones in eastern Iowa and Polk County.

The message sent around 7:30 p.m. Monday read, “Civil Emergency in this area until 8:45 p.m. EDT” and “Take Shelter Now Polk-County.”

But there was no emergency. A statement Tuesday from the message system vendor, Inspiron Logistics, says a firm representative was trying to send an alert to help Johnson County officials find a missing woman. The vendor apologized for the mistake.

Both Inspiron and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management are investigating exactly how and why the erroneous message was sent and how it reached Polk County towers.