Waiting Out the Revolution: Elderly American Living Alone in Cairo Now Making International Headlines

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A story of an elderly American trapped in a Cairo apartment captured America’s attention. But nothing can be done to help her.

When NBC Nightly News first reported that Mary Thornberry, a 76-year-old grandmother, was trapped in her Cairo apartment, America took notice. Thornberry, who moved to Cairo to study Egyptian history after she retired, had been forced to defend herself with nothing but a walking cane, a rolling pin and a large knife.

(More on NewsFeed: See more about Thornberry’s struggles in Cairo)

And according to Thursday night’s NBC update (see above at 8:15), things aren’t getting much better. Her apartment no longer has running water, and she’s running out of options. Her son, Phillip Derek, told NBC, “The problem is the buses aren’t running, she can’t get a taxi, she can’t walk her way through the mobs.”

So Thornberry is stuck in her apartment, listening to the shouting on the square. She said she can tell who has the advantage in the riots below based on the chants she hears.  “Sometimes I just hear the — ah — the huge sound, and sometimes the chant will be Mubarak, Mubarak, Mubarak,” she said. “Sometimes it will be El Baradei, El Baradei, El Baradei.”

The State Department and the U.S. embassy have inquired about how to help — she was even addressed by name at a White House press briefing — but so far she’s still stuck. And she’s not taking it lightly.

“I’m really getting quite angry,” she said. “It’s just as well that no one comes and sticks their face in my broken glass because I’m apt to whop them with my rolling pin.”

(More on TIME.com: See TIME’s full coverage of the conflict in Egypt)

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