The Blenheim Bridge Recovery Team will marshal its forces at 9am Saturday to begin picking up the pieces.
Anyone who wants to lend a hand should dress for the conditions-rough terrain, fallen trees, piles of debris-and meet at the Town Hall.
About 20 people, all with ties to the 1855 Blenheim Covered Bridge, a National Historic Landmark and the longest single-span covered bridge in the world before it was washed downstream in August flooding, brainstormed ways to recover and hopefully, rebuild the bridge, at a meeting Saturday.
Ann Mattice-Strauch, a lifelong Blenheim resident and councilman who's heading up the effort, said the Schoharie Creek is littered with pieces of the bridge, some small, others too big to fit in a barn, and many of them buried under tons of debris.
Schoharie County's Department of Public Works is willing to help in the recovery, said Acting Commissioner Ben Cooper, but first, the pieces need to be identified, marked, and mapped to speed up the process.
Searchers will need permission to go on private property but don't expect problems; Mr. Cooper said the DPW has standard release forms he can make available.
December recovery efforts yielded a 40-foot long section of the bridge as well as several other 20-foot-30-foot sections, said Carle Kopecky, executive director of the Schoharie County Historical Society.
"So, yes, there is big stuff out there," he said, "and the DPW hasn't found a piece yet they can't handle."
The first step in recovery, Mr. Kopecky said, will be mobilization, followed by preservation and finally, funding-whether it's through FEMA or other sources-to rebuild the bridge.
There are unconfirmed reports of bridge debris as far away as Central Bridge, but most of it is thought to be confined to the stretch of the creek between where the bridge stood and Bouck's Island.
That's where Saturday's search will focus.
"We all need to be mindful that it's spring and we could get flooded again," said Gail Shaffer, another longtime Blenheim resident and a member of the Longterm Recovery Team. "We need to get going."
There's another reason to hasten the recovery process.
Blenheim has convinced the National Park Service not to yank the bridge's National Landmark status-a key to future grants and funding-but has also promised to report back on recovery efforts in six months.
Mr. Kopecky said recovering 51 percent of the original bridge will be crucial to keeping the landmark status; neither the siding or roof is original.
"We do have to be a little selective," he said. "I can offer guidance on what's worth the effort. We need to get as much of the good stuff as we can."
Once as much of the bridge as possible is recovered, it will need to be stored somewhere dry, secure and nearby.
Anyone interested in helping with recovery efforts or who may have information on pieces of the bridge can contact Blenheim Supervisor Bob Mann at 827-6077.