Natural disasters and fallout from the real estate bubble still hamper many Americans' attempts to improve their credit scores, according to an Experian report released this month. In their "State of Credit in America" report, the credit reporting bureau reveals the American cities with the ten highest and ten lowest average credit scores. Four of the five cities at the top of this year's list remained relatively insulated from the housing crisis and from unusual weather events:

1. Minneapolis,Minnesota: 787
2. Madison, Wisconsin: 785
3. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: 781
4. Green Bay Wisconsin: 780
5. San Francisco, California: 789

Meanwhile, the cities with the lowest average credit scores shared common experiences with hurricanes, floods, and sudden fluctuations in housing prices:

1. Harlingen, Texas: 684
2. Jackson, Mississippi: 698
3. Corpus Christi, Texas: 700
4. Shreveport, Louisiana: 701
5. El Paso, Texas: 706

In conjunction with the report's release, Experian has announced a contest to reward Americans with compelling stories about their struggles with credit. At the LiveCreditSmart.com website, visitors can participate in the competition for one of five $5,000 prizes. After the October 31 entry deadline, site visitors will be invited to vote for their favorite entries in time for the March awards.