The Maple Leaf Bar As A Hurricane Community Center

As our Karen non-event drops some intermittently entertaining showers on us, it reminds me of just over a year ago when Hurricane Isaac had a much bigger impact.  It arrived exactly on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Most people both in and outside of New Orleans probably (quite rightly!) think of the Maple Leaf Bar as an iconic music institution – home of Rebirth Brass Band on Tuesday nights (their busiest night of the week), the constantly changing John Vidacovich “Trio” on Thursday nights, and the now gone Monday nights of Papa Grows Funk.  For those of us that live in the neighborhood, the Maple Leaf is also a great barfly location and a raucous environment at which to watch Saints games.  During Hurricane Isaac, they stepped it up to become much, much more.

Before we lost power during Isaac, the Leaf committed to staying open 24 hours through the storm.  When the neighborhood lost power, they didn’t waiver from that commitment.  People gathered under the overhang out front in the rain while the bartenders inside were serving cold beer using portable lights strapped around their heads.  They rolled out a gas grill and offered up food to the neighbors.

After 2 days without power (went for about 3 days for us in this neighborhood, up to a week in other parts of the city), we all started emptying our freezers and bringing the contents down to the bar to be cooked on the grill – everybody sharing food.

It was Saints pre-season so, on Thursday night, they hooked a big screen television up to a generator and we even were able to watch some football.

The Maple Leaf Bar – an iconic music club and a gathering point for the Carrollton/Riverbend neighborhood, … particularly when it’s needed the most.  Check ’em out with late, live music – seven nights per week.