CASTALIAN SPRINGS, Tennessee (CNN) -- Armed with nothing but a flashlight and finding no signs of life, firefighter David Harmon made one final search of tornado wreckage and made the discovery of a lifetime. Kyson Stowell was thrown a hundred yards but had only minor injuries. "I shined the flashlight across it and said 'I've got a baby doll.' And before I got 'I've got a baby doll' out of my mouth, it moved," Harmon said. In pitch darkness, in the middle of a field, Harmon found a baby boy covered with mud and debris. "As soon as we rolled the baby over, it took a gasp of air and started crying," he said. Eleven-month-old Kyson Stowell was thrown a hundred yards when a tornado shattered his home. He was found shivering but with only minor injuries. His mother, Kerri, was killed. His grandfather, Douglas Stowell, described Kyson and his mother as "best friends." "She was a good mother to him," he said. "I just hate to see her gone. ... He loved his momma, and she loved him." Douglas Stowell estimated that it was at least two hours after the storm before the baby was found. "He's just a miracle," the grandfather told reporters. The entire area where Kyson was found had been searched once, and rescuers found nothing. After sorting through all the debris, they found a baby stroller and decided to look again. Harmon said he was overwhelmed by the experience and felt connected to Kyson. "He'll always have a special place in my heart," he said. "I hope I continue to stay in contact with the grandparents, and I would like to get to know the kid as he gets older." Kerri Stowell was one of 56 people killed across the South earlier this week in the deadliest tornado outbreak in the United States in more than 20 years. The storms ripped apart houses and trapped residents of university dorms and a retirement home in debris. President Bush plans to visit parts of storm-ravaged Tennessee on Friday, a day after declaring five counties in the state "major disaster" areas. "The president's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Hardin, Macon, Madison, Shelby, and Sumner," the White House said in a statement. The assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, as well as low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff met with officials in Jackson, Tennessee, which suffered the heaviest loss of life. Of the 56 killed in the tornadoes that struck five states, 32 died in Tennessee. There were four fatalities in Alabama, 13 in Arkansas and seven in Kentucky. Chertoff toured the devastated regions of Tennessee and expressed his awe at the "sheer randomness" of the tornadoes. "Literally one house is pulverized and one house remains standing," Chertoff said, noting Kyson's survival and the death of the baby's mother. "There's a quality to the tornadoes of randomness that really is humbling." He vowed the federal government would stand "shoulder to shoulder" with local and state officials across the affected area "so we can begin the process of rebuilding." David Paulison, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said FEMA has improved its communication with local authorities since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "The difference that we see in the state, local and federal response from what we saw in Katrina is developing that partnership, developing the communication, that unified command system we did not have," Paulison said. "And it is working -- it worked in California [wildfires], it worked in Oklahoma a couple of months ago with the ice storms and it's going to work here also." Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist said 60 people in his town were injured in tornadoes that damaged 576 homes. About 100 of the 576 homes were destroyed, he said. The mayor estimated the damage in his town at "upwards of $70 million," and he noted that several other tornadoes have hit the town in past years. "It's as if we go around with a bull's-eye on our backs," he said. Much of that damage happened at Union University, where the women's dormitories were destroyed, along with two academic buildings. Other school buildings received lesser damage. No students were among the fatalities. Of the nine students hospitalized overnight, four have been released, university President David Dockery said. Two of the remaining five are in critical condition, he said. "We're very confident that, with God's help, we're going to be able to move forward, to restore Union University to its greatness and to better days ahead," he said.