Mormon missionaries begin returning to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

(David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP) In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, photo, a Puerto Rican flag flies over the ruins of a building damaged by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A small contingent of Mormon missionaries is returning to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, LDS Church officials said Friday, but it remained uncertain when the faith’s missionary operations will fully resume there.

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints evacuated missionaries from Puerto Rico and its neighboring Caribbean islands after Hurricane Maria lashed the region in September. Scores of people died as the storm and flooding decimated electrical, water and communications services.

In all, more than 150 missionaries were evacuated to other missions in the United States.

LDS Church officials said Friday that 14 young elders will now return to the main island, while two senior missionary couples would go to St. Croix and St. Thomas, where they had served before the crisis.

“Decisions about the return of additional missionaries will be made at a later date,” the church stated in a news release.

While missionaries were evacuated, LDS Church relief efforts continued for Mormons and others in need of food, water, rebuilding materials and other supplies.

There are more than 23,000 Latter-day Saints in Puerto Rico.