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Local woman praying for daughter's return from Egypt

23-year-old and friend looking for ways out of Cairo
By: Jenifer Gee Journal News Editor
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A local woman and her family are praying for her daughter's safe exit from a riot-filled Egypt. On Monday, Jonna Steinmetz, a Greenwood resident, said her 23-year-old daughter Jess Steinmetz was currently trying to find alternate ways to leave Cairo after sometimes violent protests against President Hosni Mubarak broke out in the Egyptian city last Tuesday. The civil outburst has all but shut down the country. ``She called me yesterday to let me know she was OK,'' Jonna Steinmetz said. ``She couldn't talk long because she was using someone else's phone.''Jonna Steinmetz said her daughter and her friend are having a hard time getting through the city to the airport. An e-mail sent from Jess Steinmetz at about 1:20 Monday morning said that she and her friend were heading to the bus station to see how else they could leave the city. ``To get to the airport from where she is at is a disaster,'' Jonna Steinmetz said. She added that she's heard after talking to the U.S. Department of State that conditions at the airport are not much better ``The airport is in total chaos, actually it's disastrous,'' Jonna Steinmetz said Monday afternoon. Jonna Steinmetz said she was able to put her daughter's name and that of her friend's on the state department's travel list to get the two Americans out of Egypt. But she was told Jess Steinmetz and her travel companion need to bring their own food and water. ``The state department said she could be at the airport for a couple of days with no food, no water, nothing,'' Jonna Steinmetz said. The state department announced on its website that it would begin chartering flights out of Cairo Monday. Janice Jacobs, assistant secretary for consular affairs, said staff at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo understands that some Americans traveling in the country do not have Internet or cell phone access. They asked that family members in communication with a loved one in Egypt tell them as many updates as possible. In her e-mail early Monday morning, Jess Steinmetz also told her mother that she was not sure when she'd have Internet access again. Jonna Steinmetz said she's been checking her e-mail every 10 minutes. She said her daughter sent her the phone number to the most recent hostel where she was staying. But once she got through, Jonna Steinmetz discovered she had just missed her daughter. ``I couldn't get through because it was busy, busy, busy and when I did get through I had just missed her by five or 10 minutes,'' Jonna Steinmetz said. Jess Steinmetz grew up in the Auburn area and attended school at St. Joseph's Catholic School in Auburn before graduating from Loretto High School in Sacramento. The 23-year-old attended college at Washington and Lee University in Virginia before moving to China two years ago to teach at an international school there. Jonna Steinmetz said her daughter's ability to speak Arabic offers some comfort. Jonna Steinmetz said her daughter and friend were vacationing in Egypt when chaos erupted. In prior phone conversations, Jess Steinmetz told her mother about her trips to two pyramids and other stories of her vacation. In her last e-mail, Jess Steinmetz tried to allay her mother's fears. ``She said that she was safe, mom, I'm safe,'' Jonna Steinmetz said. ``She doesn't want us to worry.'' But Jonna Steinmetz and her family are praying for Jess' safe return to China. She hopes others will do the same. ``All of her family is very concerned,'' Jonna Steinmetz said. ``The more people who are thinking about her and praying for her, the better.'' Reach Jenifer Gee at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com.