New Office of Emergency Management chief faces 1st challenge with July 4

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Many challenges face the Office of Emergency Management, but Eyewitness News took a tour with new Commissioner Deanne Criswell -- who on Monday replaced New York City's most senior official, Joe Esposito.

Criswell -- the first woman to head the OEM -- is a former FEMA employee, but she has no experience in New York City.

That is now changing, and with the Fourth of July holiday upon us, this week has been baptism by fire.

"I have seen the threat analysis, and I think it's going to be a great 4th of July event," she said. "I've been getting briefings from all the different divisions within emergency management. I've had a very specific briefing on the 4th of july. I plan on attending the 4th of July events, working with NYPD as they coordinate that."

Esposito was fire after last November's freakish snowstorm that crippled traffic for hours, but he actually stayed on at the OEM until Criswell could start.

"We've talked for the last several weeks as I was still in Washington, DC, getting ready to move up here," she said. "And he was extremely helpful."

Even though Esposito was well-liked, Criswell says the transition has not been awkward.

"I think with any transition, there's always going to be that period of trying to figure out who this new person is, regardless of the reason the last person left," she said. "It's been really great, because the team here is exceptional."

Criswell worked for years at FEMA during the Obama administration. She's also a firefighter and a tri-athlete, and her first big test of many comes Thursday -- making sure the Big Apple has a safe Independence Day.

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