2001, back when I was living on Long Island between semesters...the memory is both good and bad. I don't remember what hurricane it was, but we had a monster 10+ ft swell, bigger than anything I'd ever surfed or seen in person. I got out of work at 5 PM, rushed to the beach and saw all these surfers just standing on shore. I thought, "what the hell is everyone staring at?!" I rushed into the water, only to struggle and get crushed over and over again trying to get out the back, all the while getting rushed down the shoreline by the monster current. I finally got out, caught a wave, popped up, fell on the drop and got ****ing rocked. Then I got the **** out. I was in way over my head. I put my tail between my legs and stayed on shore and with 90% of the other surfers who were there that day and just enjoyed watching the true talent that was out there riding. It was a humbling experience.
two totally different but distinct memories.
1. must have been 95 or 96, cant recall the storm name. i was 13 or so, my pops dropped me and my good buddy at a moco NJ spot on his way to work (the spot no longer breaks unless big swell - damn replenishment). we walk down, saw some lifeguards on duty early due to the swell, on the beach throwing up their guts, along with some other surfers doing the same. being young, stupid, and excited, we thought nothing of it and paddled out. i think i got a few big shoulders before getting out sick. turns out there was a red tide (google it if you don't know) in conjunction with late summer tropical swell. i spent the next 14 days sick as I have ever been. i gave up surfing for the immediate future, thats how sick i was. oh, and my buddy was absolutely fine.
2. sandy. day 1- NJ was a mess, hunker down and hope for the best. the day 2 - day i cleaned up my house/yard and helped neighbors/friends family that i was able to. day 3 - no power, nothing open, no work. so i went surfing. carefully made my way to the beach, even more carefully climbed down a broken seawall, thru debris on the beach, and paddled out to clean leftover 3-5ft surf. i could not believe the destruction when i looked back towards the shoreline. it was surreal. for every good wave i got, i paddled back out and my heart sunk looking at crippled houses, businesses, etc. what a bittersweet session.
I moved to South Florida in June 1995, it was unbelievable, I think 2 Hurricanes and about 9 named storms came thru, long period head+ to OH just about every single day in July and August. Back to the northeast in '99. Fabian was good, I think '03, Ernesto, Labor day weekend 2006 was unreal - TOH and glassy at its peak. Bill was awesome in August of '09, loved the warm water. Irene in '11 was fun for a good 5-6 days straight.