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.