'IS THIS it' was the question many Blackwood residents say ran through their minds lying in bed as the storm front hit.
Post office and coffee shop owner Carol Guthrie said anyone who had lived in the area never knew anything like it.
No messages could get in, little information could get out from the town as Ms Guthrie's shop became an informal place tor residents to share warnings, offers for help and to share their stories and collective trauma.
Ms Guthrie said everyone had their own personal terrifying story of trying to seek safe shelter or huddling on neighbours' floors.
What terrifies many, she said, was the lack of communication with telephone and internet connections tapped out. They fear what this could mean should a bushfire grip the region.
Jules Holden, who lives in northern Blackwood, lives with epilepsy. Her property was completely blocked with trees and powerlines downed. Her family managed to navigate their way for more than an hour to find their terrified horses.
"It was frightening," Ms Holden said. "No phone, no power, it's so dangerous and shows something seriously has to change."
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Multiple Blackwood residents said conflicting and changing messaging via Telstra as to when power might return made it hard to plot whether to stay or go.
Celebrant Genevieve Messenger was leading an online guided meditation for the New Moon online when the storm hit on Wednesday night. She quipped New Moon was all about dealing with unstable energies- but nothing prepared her got this. On Friday she was still in shock.
Ms Messenger could finish her meditation, as her modem had enough power to continue, and she was using lights in the black-out. She kept calm for her class, only realising later the massive thumps she heard were trees falling down about her.
Two gums, each an estimated 200 years old, one peppermint and the other a ghost gum, toppled at her back door. Her house was unscathed.
Ms Messenger spent the night in her neighbour's house, the next floor down, by his log fire. They used her gas for cooking.
One thing I learned, as soon as a disaster hits, is to get a message to your loved ones as you never know when you might get the next text away.Genevieve Messenger
"Emergency advice we received that night was not helpful. If we had a realistic timeframe for power or water it would be much more supportive," Ms Messenger said. "I don't feel safe...One thing I learned, as soon as a disaster hits, is to get a message to your loved ones as you never know when you might get the next text away."
Country Fire Authority volunteers Brett Bon and Peter Daglish said they cleared as many roads as they could but some trees were beyond their capability. They reverted to using pages for communication- where they could find them and batteries to work them.
They estimated at least 20 trees on powerlines needed to be fixed before any power could be restored to the town - and that could take days.
Just outside town, Allan Tait and Fiona Ross had felt unscathed, until a towering tree in their yard gave way and split their shed in half on Thursday morning.
Mr Tait said the shed had been filled with furniture from a move and while the damage had been significant, the cars were still intact.
Town was quiet but the mood was positive with neighbours helping neighbours. At the coffee shop, Ms Guthrie said everybody with a chainsaw was out working.
The town was to host a pizza party for a town meeting, with acoustic entertainment, on Friday afternoon as a way to check in on each other.
'These days are the hardest but also the best' for Ballan workers
MORALE in Ballan was upbeat despite lingering issues with prolonged power outages and limited phone coverage.
Country Grocers IGA Ballan store manager Ashlee Brooker said it had been a tough end to the week in stock losses and trying to support staff both in Ballan and its sister store in Trentham. But at the same Ms Brooker said community support had made all the extra work worthwhile.
"These days are the hardest but customers also make these the best days at work," Ms Brooker said. "Morale is always higher in tough times. Everyone bands together, everyone knows the situation and everyone does what they can to help."
These days are the hardest but customers also make these the best days at work.Ashlee Brooker, Country Grocers IGA Ballan
The best Ballan Local Butcher's Natasha Buttigieg said her team could do was keep the fridge door closed to successfully avoid damage from power loss.
Power and phone service remained patchy in Ballan on Friday morning with many town businesses left to deal in cash - scarce in the COVID-era - and even logging customer payments owing if needed.
Ms Buttigieg said her shop had been busier than usual for a Friday morning. She said luckily they had been able to save most of their stock and still find a way to keep up customer deliveries.
For fishmonger Joe McFall, his stock was "saved by ice" - and cold, winter temperatures inside the shop also helped.
His Slipper Seafood team, those who were not cut off from town, constantly monitored stock temperature until power was restored.
Ballan Bakery's Lisa Perugini said her team had been unable to save a lot of stock. They had to throw out a lot of stock, particularly cakes, and start again but no phone coverage and electricity on Friday morning made for a juggle with suppliers.
Meanwhile, Gordon resident Lyal Collins was left to drive about the region in a bid to find phone reception for business.
Mr Collins lost phone, internet and power on Thursday and said this was particularly frustrating given he lived near the exchange.
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