PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After yesterday’s earthquake, a lot of people called their loved ones to ask, “Did you feel that?”  But the sheer volume of calls made it impossible for many other types of phone calls to get through.

Now, the federal government says it prefers that you stay off the phone during similar events.

“We’re sorry, all circuits are busy now…” was a typical recording callers heard shortly after the quake struck.  Cell phone companies say their networks were overwhelmed.

In reaction, the Department of Homeland Security sent out a “Tweet” telling people to hang up.

“Of course it goes against your first instinct,” notes Nick Morici, with FEMA in Philadelphia.  “We’ve found that through different emergencies and disasters throughout this country over the last ten years, the best way to get though at times is to use the text messaging system and to use e-mail.”

It’s unclear whether the consumer wireless and landline issues extended to any emergency communications, apart from too many jittery folks calling 911.  But it does rekindle memories of the radio failures of 9/11 — and the lack of progress on the federal goal to create a single system so public safety officials can talk to each other and get to real victims faster.

Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060

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