It's hard to make a comparison between Sandy and the Great Hurricane of 1938. I experienced the latter but I was pretty small then. The two storms were different.
One main difference is that we had plenty of warning for Sandy while the 1938 storm was unexpected. Thus there was far greater loss of life, which in that sense makes that storm worse. Also, as it had rained for several days before the hurricane struck, the ground was softened and many trees went down. The Milford Green, for instance, lost many trees.
As is the case with Sandy, the 1938 hurricane also destroyed many houses along the beach. Sandy's duration was much longer and the storm surge was greater, thus more flooding. Thus, I'm sure that the property damage on the shoreline was much greater because of this.
I'm sure that you will hear from some old-timers whose memories of 1938 are better than mine.