MB, there are several things that could have happened that made your phones inoperable.
1. The occurance that knocked your power out could have snapped the Telephone Cable if the cable was on poles anywhere between you and your Central Office or if the lead-in into your house was brought down by the same limbs that you went out to cut
2. If a cable anywhere that feeds into your Central Office was brought down, it could cause the Central Office to see a massive number of people trying to get dial-tone at the same time. Did you try to get dial-tone again after a period of time? The Central Office is designed to test immediately for a receiver-off-hook and then furnish dial-tone or to lock it out if it determines that it is a false request, not necessarily from you.
3. Another option is if you are on a Fiber-Optic cable (you will not be able to tell ). In the OLD DAYS, the Central Office funished 48 volt dial-tone on a pair of Copper wires. However, with the advent of fiber, they couldn’t put 48 volts out any more as it would damage the fiber( by the way, fiber is similar to those (toys ?) that look like a little tree where a flashlight is shone on one end of the fiber and the very end of the fiber glows brightly). If you are on fiber, you are SOL until you get your power back unless you have a cordless telephone system( a certain kind). The system that I have in my house has an option that if the power goes out, I can use the .power from the rechargeable batteries in my phone to make calls out with. unfortunately, I can not recerive calls because the batteries don’t have enough power to activate the ringer.
Incidently, that was good thinking to try the rotary dial phone. There are times when some central office equipement may have a problem and not recognize the tones from your phone but will be ableto see the interupptions coming from a rotary phone Hope this helps. Ron S