EDISON - Verizon Wireless says an emergency message that went out this afternoon telling people there was a civil emergency and instructing them to immediately seek shelter was just a test.

The company has released a statement saying, "Around noon this afternoon a test emergency notification text message was sent to customers in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey. This test message was not clearly identified as a test. We apologize for any inconvenience or concern this message may have caused." Verizon also says that it does not know how many customers were affected.

The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness announced via Twitter, after the Verizon messages were sent, that there was currently no emergency.

The mistake caused 911 call centers to be flooded with calls as many central New Jersey residents panicked over the messages.