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Coping with financial crisis in the heartland

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How is America's heartland weathering the financial crisis? NBC Nightly News digital correspondent Mara Schiavocampo and producer Al Henkel took a first-hand look in a five-part series this week, "Your Country, Your Money." They found that while the concerns differ from place to place, no one is immune.

In Pryor, Okla., population 8,500, faith and a collective determination to make it through the tough times are helping residents in a town where two manufacturing plants recently shut down, eliminating 700 jobs. Now residents are sharing and caring for their less fortunate neighbors. "We all help each other, it's just what we do," says Mayor Jimmy Tramel.

Rapidly sinking commodity prices are testing naturally optimistic farmers in the bread basket town of Garden Plain, Kan., where Larry Steckline compares raising crops in these uncertain times to "going to the crap tables in Las Vegas."

In Des Moines, Iowa, while the city has not been affected as drastically as those on the coasts, worries about the steady drumbeat of bad economic news have residents clipping coupons and cutting back on their spending, at the expense of local small businesses.

The foreclosure crisis is at the forefront in Kansas City, Mo., where some neighborhoods have more vacant homes than occupied ones and residents are reporting rising crime. And in the usually vibrant downtown, the night life has taken on the subdued mood of a slow blues.

In the final installment of the series airing Friday night on Nightly News, Schiavocampo visits Peoria, Ill., speaking with retirees and a financial adviser about the agonizing feeling of watching retirement savings evaporate.