The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Tracy Thompson
the Times 

Waitsburg Flood Relief Committee in action

Pastor Matt Wyatt, congregants and citizens organize relief efforts


February 20, 2020

In action since early Friday morning on February 7, Pastor Matt Wyatt of the Waitsburg Christian Church has been leading the 'spontaneous volunteers' of Waitsburg to assist residents with the many needs following last week's flood.

On Sunday, Feb. 9, a group of Waitsburg citizens formed the Waitsburg Flood Relief Committee which has been driving the many volunteer and supply efforts since then. Margie Benson, Jillian Henze, Bryan Martin, Joy Smith, Brian Treadway and Pastor Matthew Wyatt are the members of the committee, with KC Kuykendall and Kate Hockersmith serving as Waitsburg City Council liaisons.

On a visit to the church Friday, Feb. 14, many plans were in action and the church itself was buzzing with volunteers including students from Waitsburg High School. Volunteer Bryan Martin was creating a master list of homes impacted in the Waitsburg area. As of Friday he had identified 30 homes affected by the flood with that number growing as volunteers continue to assess damage.

Margie Benson was busy organizing the many food donations the church has been collecting, and has been cooking breakfast, lunch and dinners since Friday. Donation requests have been published on the Waitsburg Emergency Updates and What's Happening in Waitsburg Facebook pages. These supply requests have been met with an outpouring of public support, often filled immediately. An account has been opened at the Waitsburg Grocery and the balance has been paid off anonymously a number of times. A donor took a supply request and filled it at a nearby Costco.

Volunteer assistance from Walla Walla University students, a group from the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of Dayton, Crossview Community Church in Kennewick, and a donation of 7-10 pots of soup from the Dayton Christian Church were all expected over the weekend.

School supplies, backpacks, Tracfones (a no-contract wireless phone option), clothing, home goods and more have all been donated and distributed through the church and its volunteers.

Housing is being offered at the Blue Mountain Hotel in Dayton, and there is a plan to get fuel for heavy equipment donated for purchase at cost.

Doug's Septic Service in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, donated two portable toilets for volunteer work crews, and they have been placed near flood cleanup work sites.

The Blue Mountain Community Foundation has approved a grant of $1,000 for use by the Waitsburg Flood Relief Committee for flood disaster relief and recovery.  This grant is from a fund created by BMCF for immediate relief and long-term recovery due to the recent flooding and is still accepting donations. These donations can be made to benefit Waitsburg or Dayton specifically. Information can be found at

The Waitsburg Christian Church on Main remains open 24/7 for those who need a place to stay, with plenty of bottled water, food and resources. Use the front access on Main Street. Questions about church facilities can go to Pastor Matthew Wyatt, (916) 622-9932. 

Monetary donations for supplies and clean-up efforts are encouraged. The Waitsburg Christian Church is a 501(c)3 organization and can accept tax deductable donations. Visit the donation page directly at, noting 'flood cleanup' in the memo line. As of press time, $2,003 had been raised towards a goal of $5,000.

Waitsburg's Banner Bank is also accepting donations with the funds going directly to the Waitsburg Flood Relief Committee. Donors can also add money to the account at the Waitsburg Grocery Store.

Did you experience flood damage?

Fill out a flood damage assessment report. Damages may include damage/loss to property, costs associated with fighting the flood, lost wages, etc.

Walla Walla County, call: (509) 524-2913.

Columbia County, visit: or call the Columbia County Flood Call Center at (509)382-3967.

County must compile reports by Friday, Feb. 21, for possible FEMA and SBA assistance


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