Berea couple married 40 years ago during tornado outbreak

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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - As we track severe weather, we're also looking back at the anniversary of a deadly tornado outbreak. 40 years ago on April 3, 1974, several tornadoes hammered our state, killing 71 Kentuckians. Among those who weathered the storm is a Madison County couple who got married that day.

"They say there's no true love at first sight," said Jeannie Cole. "I was 10 years old, and it was true love for me. And when I married him, I felt like a princess because I was marrying the man of my dreams."

Jeannie and Harold Cole have been together for as long as they can remember. The two got married on April 3, 1974 at only 16 and 19 years of age. And they still remember it all just like it was yesterday.

"Young and nervous and in love," said Harold Cole. "Don't have a clue of what's ahead!"

But their 40th wedding anniversary also marks another much more tragic 40th anniversary in Madison County.

"We were sitting there eating, and I looked out the window and the sky was real yellow," said Harold. "And then I saw this big black cloud just sort of rolling on the ground."

That sight was near the Richmond bypass just as the newlyweds started their honeymoon.

"The next thing we know the tornado had hit, and there's no lights or anything," said Jeannie. "You're so consumed with your wedding day that you don't really give it a great thought of what's really taken place at that time."

The happiest time of their life soon became one of the most trying times when Harold Cole heard the sad news about his cousin.

"It was a few days before I actually found out that her and her husband had been killed," said Harold.

They were two of the seven deaths reported in Madison County. But 40 years later, the couple is focusing on today and not what that day took from them but what they were blessed with.

"Still going strong and we love each other now more than we did," said Harold.

The couple has two children together and four grandchildren. They plan to officially celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary on Friday night.

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