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Missionaries to return to Puerto Rico after hurricanes



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SALT LAKE CITY — Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will soon return to Puerto Rico after they were evacuated from the island following the aftermath of hurricanes in September, LDS officials said, Friday.

Some missionaries will be returning to the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission, LDS Church officials said in a statement. Fourteen elders will be part of the first missionaries returning to the island, and two senior couples will also return to St. Croix and St. Thomas. Church officials said they will determine "at a later date" whether more missionaries will return to the mission, the statement said.

The missionaries were evacuated in September after Hurricane Maria, a powerful Category 4 storm, made landfall. The official death toll from Maria is 62, but the New York Times reported Friday there could actually be more than 1,000 deaths.

More than 150 missionaries assigned to Puerto Rico were evacuated in September. They were reassigned to other areas until further notice.

Hurricane Irma, another powerful storm, also brushed up against the island two weeks before Maria, leaving 1 million people without power at the time.

Groups from Utah have made trips to Puerto Rico since the hurricane, volunteering time and handing out supplies to the U.S. territory's residents. The first of those groups, which included Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, spent five days helping on the island in November. More groups from Utah were expected to make volunteering trips through March.

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