Fmr. FDNY commissioner sworn in an FEMA director for NY, NJ and Puerto Rico

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There's a new man in charge of FEMA's effort to rebuild Puerto Rico and he's a familiar figure in the Tri-State.

Tom Von Essen, the former commissioner of the FDNY before, during and after the 9/11 terror attacks, was sworn in Monday as the FEMA director for New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico.

Eyewitness News Anchor Bill Ritter spoke to Von Essen on his second day on the job, and he says the relief effort is now in full swing.

"Now it's really starting to kick in, I'm sure there were things that could have been done differently in the beginning, but here we are, we got to get it done," Von Essen said. "What will be rebuilt, what will we say is complete, I think it will be years before you have a completely new, good infrastructure for electric, for water, for waste plants. I read something today that said some of the waste plants haven't been seen yet, and how could that be? So they are in a situation that is much different than we've faced here on the mainland."

Von Essen was the man in charge when 343 members of the FDNY were killed at the World Trade Center.

His new office at FEMA is in the building that replaced the towers, One World Trade.

It's a big deal for a leader still haunted by that horrible day.

You can watch more of Bill Ritter's interview with Von Essen during "Up Close" Sunday at 11 a.m.
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.